- May 2, 2018
Windermere town leaders approved amended contract plans for the Sixth Avenue sidewalk project at the Windermere Town Council meeting May 8.
Councilman Chris Sapp motioned to move forward with the project with the condition that the plans be amended to move the sidewalk three feet closer to the roadway wherever applicable. Town staff will work with Kimley-Horn and Associates — the engineering firm that drew up with the sidewalk plans — to come up with a final design that would impact less trees than the original plans.
The sidewalk will run along Sixth Avenue from Main Street to Lake Street and is part of a larger, multimodal network plan to make Windermere more pedestrian-friendly.
The original plans for the project proposed placing a five-foot-wide sidewalk about 12 feet from the edge of the roadway and would have impacted about 20 trees along Sixth Avenue. Two large oak trees in the area would be saved, Kimley-Horn and Associates Engineer Hao Chau said.
“We put the sidewalk approximately one foot from the right of way, which provides a 12-foot separation from the (edge of) the roadway for pedestrian and vehicular safety,” Chau said. “It is true that we’re impacting approximately 20 trees along that area with the placement of the sidewalk, but those trees are smaller trees and a couple of palm trees. They’re not the mature oaks that we’re trying to save and we are saving two mature oaks.”
Prior to approving the contract plans, council members heard from town residents who were concerned about the trees.
Brandi Haines said she agrees safety is important regarding to the project. However, she thinks the town should do more to minimize impacting trees.
“I think that a lot of other towns in Florida do go to great lengths to try and minimize impacts to trees,” Haines said. “Windermere being designated ‘Tree City, USA’ I think the town needs to do as much as we can to avoid impacts to the trees when we are doing projects like this.”
Councilman Bob McKinley also spoke about minimizing impacts to the trees.
“If the sidewalk were closer to the road, then we would save a bunch of trees,” McKinley said.
Haines shared her thoughts about the council’s decision regarding the project.
“In terms of what happened today, Councilman Sapp’s recommendation — I think — is good, because I feel it’s a bit of a compromise (to) try and save some trees that we can,” Haines said. “Hopefully the town’s discretion will be in an effort to save those trees.”