The Narrowing of 41
January 27, 2017
I was elected to be the new president of the Coquina Sands Association (CSA) at the Holiday party and annual meeting on January 9th. My wife, Karen, and I are new residents to Coquina Sands. We built a house at the intersection of Orchid Drive and Crayton Road. I replaced Kerry Dustin who had been in the role for over three years. Kerry did an outstanding job. I hope to do as well in communicating with you about developments within our community. I attended my first City Council meeting on January 17th and my first Presidents' Council meeting on Monday, January 23rd. I thought it would be appropriate to share with you what I learned about items of which I believe, you may have an interest. This issue of the CSA Community Update will focus on potential traffic pattern changes that could effect our community.
The Narrowing of 41 and Adding Roundabouts
It is my understanding that the issue of making changes to US 41 (narrowing it from six to four lanes and adding a roundabout) as well as other traffic pattern changes to make our city more pedestrian and cycling friendly have been circulating around for a number of years. This raises a concern for us as residents of Coquina Sands, in that it could create significantly more traffic on Crayton Road and Gulf Shore Boulevard as people try to avoid the congestion that would be created on 41. More traffic means that our safety and the safety of our families would be compromised.
I also wonder how residents in the Port Royal and Aqualane Shores areas would choose to travel through the downtown area if these changes were made. It is not clear to me why the Naples City Management has continued to bring up the issue after it has been talked down by various people over the years. It appears that this time making some major changes is being more seriously considered. It has been speculated that making it easier for pedestrians to traverse over US 41 to the area East of 41 and North of Fifth Avenue would extend the land locked city significantly, increasing commercial and residential development and meaningfully improving tax revenue. It is also being considered to add a roundabout at the "Four Corners” intersection of Fifth Avenue and 41 to encourage safer pedestrian traffic through this area.
The City presented two documents at the January 17th City Council meeting, that show some alternative changes to 41. Part of the rational to narrowing 41 and/or adding a roundabout at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 41 is that the amount of car traffic is unsafe for pedestrians and bikes. A high number of accidents is being used as an explanation to reroute through traffic around this area (it is estimated that about one-third of the traffic is passing by downtown on the way to another destination) which is causing the city to try and move more traffic to Goodlette-Frank Road. The documents from the meeting can be accessed by clicking the following link containing materials provided for the January 17th City Council Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) workshop:http://naples.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=14&event_id=600. Once you have gone to this website, then go to item 8 - Streets and Stormwater. There are two lengthy attachments, Charrette Summary Book and Downtown Mobility Connectivity Study which describe alternative proposals that are being considered. You can also go to the City of Naples home page http://www.naplesgov.com to view an hour video which includes the presentation made by the consultant and questions raised on these topics.
There are two attachments, shown, from the Naples Daily News. They support the narrowing of 41 and potentially a roundabout. The next attachment shows comments from city councilman Doug Finley questioning the data collected by the consulting firm selected by the city at a cost of $350,000. It does not appear that the majority of the council representatives are questioning the studies. I have been speaking with John Lehmann, president of the Old Naples Association, who is also concerned about the narrowing of 41. At the Presidents’ Council meeting, Bill Moss, the city manager, chose to only discuss the zoning change indicating that the transportation and traffic issues would be covered later. Every person I have spoken with from Old Naples and Coquina Sands has expressed concern about the plan.
If we as a community are in disagreement about the proposals, it is important for our association to speak out about our concerns. I would encourage you to speak with your neighbors to learn about their level of concern. If they are not members of the CSA, I would suggest that you encourage them to join so that we have alouder voice in questioning whether this is the best plan for all Naples residents. If you are not a member, please join so that you can add you voice to the discussion and so that you will continue to receive the updates. The actions that you can take to express your views are for you to reach out to City Council members, attend the public hearings on the subject, write to the Naples News, and let your CSA Board members know about your concerns. The Newly elected CSA Board members include Arlene Garrity (Treasurer), Nancy Hurst (Secretary), Kerry Dustin, Jim Mayer, Jan Suckow, BJ Baron, Paul Benzing, John Calce, Maja Haraldsen, Jim Keith, Diane Mayberry-Hatt, Terri Moellers, John Malloy, Mary Pat Peterson, Bob Pine, Rex Storter, and Mike Zimmerman. I hope that you found this community update of interest.