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Council talks sidewalks and other community development improvements

July 10, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Community Council hosted a guest speaker from Lee County's Department of Community Development who went over the projected workflow for local sidewalks. David Wagley, a technician for the county explained the scientific method used to evaluate all projects including sidewalks.

According to Wagley, the county has a list of sidewalks, which are rated with a score that's based on the type of road (arterial or sub arterial) and the transit usage. Currently the money to fund improvements come from road impact fees and local fuel tax.

"The problem lies in the fact that when Lehigh was originally laid out, they did not account for sidewalks or the extensive growth," Wagley said.

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David Wagley, a technician for the county explained the scientific method used to evaluate all projects including sidewalks.


A few of the current projects being evaluated include Richmond Avenue bridge, which needs a sidewalk and Bell Blvd. Council members asked about the status of other busy roadways, especially those walked by children going to catch their bus.

According to Wagley, each project must first get put on the agenda and then eventually come up for a vote.

Damon Shelor, chair of the Lehigh Acres Advisory Committee on Sidewalks, pointed out that there's a holdup even if you get on that list.

"Unfortunately, the problem with that scenario is that Lehigh Acres is expansive and playing catch-up with 50 years of growth. Currently there are 65 million dollars' worth of sidewalks on that list," Shelor said. "It was a win just to get Leonard and 8th Street on that list."

Shelor suggested that the council start a committee similar to the Lighting District Committee, who could look over the present plans and funding.

Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann also attended the council's monthly meeting to give an update on the Joel Boulevard restriping plan and the addition of traffic lights on the busy roadway.

"After hearing the plan from the Lee County Department of Transportation I got a better understanding of their proposed restriping. The goal was to reduce Joel Boulevard to two lanes with a turn lane down the middle. Then there would be no way for drivers to go faster than the person in front of them. The plan was met with some resistance so for now it's on the back burner," Mann explained.

Mann also announced that while the restriping plan was on hold, the county does have a plan to install two traffic lights, one would fall under this year's budget.

"In the last five years there has been around 50 accidents on Joel Boulevard, three of them were fatalities. That's just not acceptable. While deciding the next step for Joel, the county plans to install two red lights. The first one will be at the busiest corner off Joel, at 6th Street, near the 7-Eleven. The second one will be close to Country Club Drive," Mann said.

The council also had a guest speaker Lorna Peters, the assistant principal from the Donna J Beasley Technical Academy. Peters went over the school's trades program, which is geared for grades ninth through 12th.

"We have all types of students from different backgrounds. That great part about the program is that they can get their core classes while learning a trade as they go. We had 35 graduates this year," Peters said.

Other agenda items included an update from Mohamed Yasi, chair of the Lehigh Acres Lighting District.

"We have the dollars, now it's just getting the work down. We are getting the new LED lighting installed and making sure that the bus stops are well lite. Next step is covering all the intersections. Our new budget for next year is in excess of $3 million and is tentatively been accepted by the county," Yasin said.

The council meeting wrapped up with two introduction from candidates running for local offices -- Jim Leavens, a Republican who is running for Lee County Sheriff, and Michael Dreikorn, a Republican who is running for the Lee County Commissioner District 1 seat.

The Lehigh Acres Community Council's meetings are held on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the meeting room at the LCSO East District substation, at 1301 Homestead Road N. Those who would like to report a down light or lighting issue are urged to call 239-533-2300.



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