Decision on El Mar Drive scheduled for Jan. 12; town extends deadline for comments

Town officials have extended the days residents can record their comments on the El Mar Drive project. On Jan. 12, commissioners will receive the input and make a decision on how the road will be reconfigured.

So far, a handful of people have signed-up to speak at Jarvis Hall on Jan. 4, 1 to 4 p.m.; Jan. 5, 5 to 8 p.m. and Jan. 6, 9 a.m. to noon. Residents who want to give input on Jan. 7, 8 and 11 must make an appointment.

“We’ll do whatever we can to accommodate people who want to make their comments on video,” said Steve d’Oliveira, the town’s public information officer.

Those interested in booking a comment slot should email d’Oliveira at steved@lbts-fl.gov or call 954-640-4209. The recordings are limited to three minutes. Comments can also be emailed to the town clerk at public_comments@lbts-fl.gov and residents can also request to join the Jan. 12 meeting on Zoom.

EDSA, the design firm charged with the project, has made three proposals: converting the road to one lane in each direction with the median ranging from 16 to 22 feet; one lane in each direction and reducing the median to 18 feet; and two lanes in each direction with an eight-foot-wide median. Visit lauderdalebythesea-fl.gov/490/el-mar-drive-streetscape-exhibit for more information on the options.

The firm also has a website, lbtselmar.com, where it regularly posts updates, detailed proposals and results from surveys that went out to the public.

When the firm surveyed the street, it found that the sidewalk needed work and in some areas it didn’t meet the Florida Department of Transportation’s width requirements.

The topic has been a contentious one over the last year.

While all proposals will keep the median, some residents, like Cristie Furth, want a fourth option: leave the median alone and just fix the sidewalk. She has led a “Save the Median” campaign, with t-shirts and video comments which have been viewed at previous meetings.

“We are not crazy about them making a decision until we can get Jarvis Hall open again,” she said of the Jan. 12 meeting. “We’re just asking them to postpone it until we can once again get the residents in Jarvis Hall to do it right.”

Even so, she is encouraging residents to book a time and record their thoughts on the project. That, she said, makes a bigger impact than sending in comments to be read aloud by the town clerk. 

Originally published in The New Pelican

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