BY MARCY SHORTUSE - After all that has been said in the last few months about Gilchrist Avenue, Lee County employees are now trying to make up their own plan to bring to the residents of Gasparilla Island. According to representatives from Commissioner John Manning’s office, Randy Cerchie and the Lee County Public Works Department are now working on the project, to attempt to find some happy medium.
“We’ve asked Randy Cerchie to look over the plans, and to give suggestions on what he thinks will actually work, with a reasonable cost,” said Nan Gonzalez, Manning’s executive assist. “I think that’s where it’s been left, and they’re working on it. It doesn’t mean the commissioner will necessarily take what staff does and make it law, but he will ask them to talk to the public with the plan they come up with.”
Gonzalez said as of right now, consensus appears to be in support of the “Community Plan,” which is supported by many business owners and the Gilchrist Avenue churches. Gonzalez said while they still don’t have input from the Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board, who had plans to form a sub-committee on the topic, “the historic board couldn’t make that decision, only county commissioners can.”
The topic is slated to be brought up on the Historic Preservation board’s agenda, to consider historic designation for the median.
“Whatever we do, we will have to change the ordinance anyway,” Gonzales said. “Right now there is an ordinance that says you can’t park there, at least not parallel park. The issue is, we’ve always allowed it. There are even signs there that say ‘no parking from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.’ That shows if we didn’t want anyone to park there, the signs would have said ‘no parking.’
“And still, no one has come up with a way to pay for it ... because the county won’t.”
Cerchie said he is still trying to get his thoughts together on both plans, and it will be a while before any decisions are made.
“Right now we’re trying to get both sets of plans, take a look at them, and try to come up with the best fit from the both of them,” he said. “It will take more than a month to sort out.”
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