Clewiston asks state to help on Ventura

CLEWISTON — Clewiston city commissioners approved a resolution authorizing a Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation at their meeting Monday, March 19, that will finance the design for resurfacing of Ventura Avenue.

Public Works Director Sean Sheffler pointed out that the city’s request to the state is only for the design phase of the Ventura project, which is planned to be a complete rebuilding of the road. He added that the SCOP agreement does not cover changes to any utilities beneath the road, although the city could ask FDOT to also include the utility design.

Commissioner Kristine Petersen moved, with Vice Mayor Michael Atkinson seconding, that they approve the resolution but also request that FDOT allow design of the utilities to be included. The vote was 5-0 in favor.

The condition of Ventura and other streets in town has been a recurring topic of commissioners’ discussion since late last year, when they OK’d low bidder Lynch Paving to do the city’s list of resurfacing projects for fiscal 2018 at a cost of about $215,000; that work is under way. In one meeting, Commissioner Phillip Roland had complained that the city was not putting enough money toward the road work needed in Clewiston, and he and other commissioners grumbled about all the potholes in city streets. By consensus then, the commission asked Mr. Sheffler to report on “hot spots” needing expedited attention, and agreed to look at financing during fiscal 2019 budget discussions that will begin soon.

For their Feb. 19 meeting, he produced a list of 17 locations showing “asphalt failure of critical need,” the square footage and estimated cost of each by figuring it at $1.90 per square foot, which is what the city’s contract with Lynch Paving worked out to.

The total was just under $64,000, an amount that Clewiston did not have in its public works budget but which would have been available if commissioners consented to dipping into contingency funds. They did not agree to do so in February because roughly $25,000 worth of the work needed on those bad spots was in various places on Ventura, including the 600 and 700 blocks of West Ventura plus the intersections with Olympia, San Jose and San Luiz streets.

Mr. Sheffler did not recommend patching those portions of Ventura since the resurfacing project is being planned and money is being sought for major drainage work on that street as well. Mayor Mali Gardner agreed that patching would be wasted work. Mr. Sheffler said he’d try to find money that could be used for the balance of the streets needing repairs, but also added that during a subsequent drive through the city, he discovered other locations of asphalt failure he hadn’t listed that were in worse shape.

Commissioners agreed to discuss road work more in depth at upcoming budget workshops.

In other actions at the March 19 meeting, the commissioners:

• Tabled action until their next meeting, April 2, on a resolution authorizing an agreement with Sky Family YMCA Inc. to operate the city’s summer camp programs for children ages 5-12, after Commissioner Petersen raised some questions about it.

• Approved an incorporation memorial plaque to be given to the newly formed Indiantown Village Council, congratulating its members on the village’s establishment, which was accomplished through action of the Florida Legislature and a 2017 referendum.

Mayor Gardner said that Clewiston commissioners had been invited to attend the council’s first meeting on Wednesday, March 21, and that she was planning to go with Commissioner Petersen and present the plaque in person.

The Clewiston News is published every Thursday.

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