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Roundabout not favored

April 16, 2012
By MEL TOADVINE (mtoadvine@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

If what Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann heard about the proposed roundabout at the intersection of Beth Stacey Blvd. and Business Way when he was at the public hearing last week, the project could be scrapped.

About 100 people turned out April 12 in the late afternoon at the Microtel Inn & Suites to see illustrations of the proposed roundabout by the Lee County Dept. of Transportation. Most didn't like the idea.

The roundabout was also criticized last week when the Lehigh Acres Community Planning Panel met. Chairman Edd Weiner said he was outraged at the proposed roundabout plan.

Article Photos

MEL TOADVINE
Comments were welcomed last week at a hearing to view the proposed plans for the Beth Stacey Blvd. At the table are Madeline Padovani and Juan Berrios.

Ironically enough, Business Way was backed up when the 4:30 p.m. presentation was being made. A motorist was attempting to make a left turn onto Beth Stacey causing around 10 cars to have to stop and wait until the turn was made. Microtel Inn is just down the street from the proposed roundabout.

Mike Bonacolta of Lehigh was one of the people who objected to the roundabout.

"It's wrong; the people of Lehigh didn't ask for the proposed roundabout and I wouldn't want to see one there," he said. Bonacolta is a member of the East County Water Control District.

According to Commissioner Mann, most people approached him when he arrived and told him they were against the county putting a roundabout at the Business Way location.

"I'm here representing the county to see what the people want. It was almost like a planned effort to be against the roundabout here this afternoon," he said. In addition to Mann, there were about a half dozen other county officials from the Department of Transportation.

The hearing was not planned to be a public speech event but instead, illustrations of roundabouts and especially the one planned for Beth Stacey Blvd.

Joan Patterson, a Lehigh resident who attended the hearing, said she was very much against the planned roundabout.

"I sure am against it," she said. "I'd rather see some the $500,000 it will cost to build go to paving the rest of the bad roads in Lehigh and filling all the pot holes."

Louise Moore of Lehigh agreed.

"I don't think we need a roundabout there. Better use can be made of that money," she said.

At tables in the big meeting room at the Microtel Inn & Suites were large plastic ballot type boxes where the public was asked to write their comments and/or questions and deposit them for county officials to take back and review.

"From what I have heard, the people here today are not ready for the roundabout," Commissioner Mann said.

He noted that in the Lehigh plan, there are parts there that include adding roundabouts in the community to help with traffic and pedestrian problems.

Mann noted that when it was announced that a roundabout would be built on 23rd Street a few years back, there was little to no opposition. He admitted that the county has not done what it promised with landscaping in the center of the roundabout however.

Ron Gogi, of Lehigh, who sits on the board of the MPO as a planning administrator, said the opportunity is there - that a roundabout may be built on Beth Stacey and that Lehigh residents need to take more time to consider the issue.

Edd Weiner, chairman of the Lehigh Acres Planning Panel, said he had asked for a report of accidents and other vehicular issues for the past 10 years on Beth Stacey Blvd. and was shocked to see that there had been few problems there.

"I don't think the right hand knows what the left hand is doing Lehigh planners and transportation officials don't talk to each other," Weiner said at last week's planning panel meeting. He was also at the Thursday hearing to make his thoughts known.

To comment on the proposed roundabout, email your opinion to sclarke@leegov.com.

 
 

 

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