Clewiston street paving schedule draws criticism

CLEWISTON — Clewiston city commissioners awarded a contract at their last meeting for the 2018 overlay paving project; however, at least one was unhappy that the city’s not keeping up with streets that need work but are falling further into disrepair while available money is not being spent on that.

Mayor Mali Gardner said at the regular meeting Monday, Dec. 18, that bids had been advertised for Nov. 2 and that six were received and opened Dec. 5, and staff was recmmending that the low bid of $114,144 from Lynch Paving be accepted. The bids ranged up to $215,114.

The contract entails applying asphalt overlay on West Sugarland Circle, portions of Alverdez Avenue, Gloria Street and Obispo Avenue, plus the Bond Street alley, with a restriping project on Berner Road from Aztec Avenue to Caribbean Avenue also included.

Mayor Gardner asked Public Works Director Sean Sheffler if he had anything to add about the project, but he just asked if there were any questions. None came up at that time, and Vice Mayor Michael Atkinson moved, with a second from Commissioner Kristine Petersen, to approve a contract with Lynch.

That’s when Commissioner Phillip Roland spoke up. “While … we’ve got this figure in front of us, $114,000, I think all of us in the city have lived with the roads, and in my looking at all the roads, we’re going backward instead of forward. We’re losing roads faster than we’re overlaying.”

He noted that Clewiston is getting “somewhere in the neighborhood of, let’s just say $450,000” in tax revenues for road work, and went through how much the city had spent in the past, citing amounts nearly double this year’s in 2014 and ’15. He also pointed out that from 2009 to about 2012, when the city’d spent roughly half this year’s amount, “that’s when we started losing the roads.”

Mayor Gardner replied that the city had approved staff’s recommendation of a $120,000 road work budget for fiscal 2018.

Commissioner Roland pointed out, “But we had $350,000 to $360,000.” Ms. Gardner answered, “I’m not sure, though, in the budget … how it was all appropriated. If we’re going to change that, I think let’s look at it going forward and have some recommendations from staff.”

“I understand,” Mr. Roland said, “but I’ve talked about this a lot of different times.”

“Budget time is certainly a time to look at it,” Ms. Gardner said. “I know that (Hendry County) is getting ready to do South Francisco and W.C. Owen. They’re in the process. Those are two of our main roads. We’ve got to address the issue of North Francisco, so I think that’s a good discussion to have at our January meeting.”

Mr. Roland said that tax revenue not being used on roads is “offsetting other expenses in our budget, and that’s all well and good when you’re really, really tight, but … we’re not spending what we’re getting to resurface.”

“You bring up some good points that we should discuss,” Mayor Gardner answered. “And I think it should be an item for our next month’s agenda, that we look at other options to increase the number of roads that are paved in the city of Clewiston.”

Other business

Also at their Dec. 18 meeting, the Clewiston commissioners:

• Approved by a 4-0 vote an ordinance on final reading that requires staff candidates to pass criminal background checks and fingerprinting for employment in certain positions; includes a revised list of those positions; and requires that any vendors who do work or provide services within certain city facilities designated as critical to security or public safety must also have undergone criminal background checks.

• Passed an ordinance on first reading, 4-0, that would extend until Feb. 1, 2019, the date that property owners must have paved at their own expense certain driveway aprons leading to city streets, due to concern about potential damage to the streets by drivers using unpaved or unconstructed driveways. The vote also set a public hearing on the ordinance for Jan. 22. Commissioner Rollins asked whether that meant the city was not going to look into all aspects of the problem, including which type of road material must be used, and Mayor Gardner stated that the extension would give the city enough time to arrive at a solution that’s workable for the entire community. This is a change the city has been working on since 2013 and has put off previously.

The Clewiston News is published every Thursday.

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