SEBASTIAN – Business owners on US 1 in Sebastian won’t see bump outs being installed any time in the near future in front of their shops. The Sebastian Community Redevelopment Agency – made up of the city council – balked at the $18,000-per-bump-out price tag and recommended instead that they move forward with a comprehensive plan for their community redevelopment area.
“This is one of the projects that will help our businesses,” said US 1 business owner Donna Keys, who told the council that despite the high price tag, she supports the bump outs.
Bump outs are considered traffic calming devices that help slow traffic and would be used to better delineate on-street parking.
Businesswoman and former Sebastian City Councilwoman Lisanne Monier Robinson had suggested the city look into installing bump outs along US 1 as a way to encourage pedestrian traffic, slow drivers and get more people to park in front of the businesses.
“It is a piece of the puzzle,” Robinson said – that the bump outs would be part of the traffic solution.
Robinson, however, said that she believes the price is too high.
City Manager Al Minner told the council that 24 locations for the bump outs have been identified. To install all 24 bumps, the cost would be approximately $250,000, which would deplete the city’s redevelopment funds.
“It’s something you can’t predict,” Minner said of getting a solid cost estimate due to uncertainties in irrigation needs for the bumps.
Ed Herlihy told the council that the bump outs are a good idea but need to be tied into a comprehensive plan for creating a sense of place for the downtown area along US 1. He pointed to New Smyrna Beach, which uses bump outs, light post banners, and entry points as ways to create a sense of place.
US 1 businessman Damien Gilliams spoke out against the bump outs for a couple reasons, including the estimated cost.
“This is not a necessity,” Gilliams said.
He questioned why the city would consider a project that is not part of their redevelopment master plan.
“We jump around and jump around,” he said of doing small projects throughout the redevelopment area without giving the master plan a thought.
Agency member and Vice Mayor Jim Hill said he agreed with Gilliams, that the city needs to revise its plan and set its redevelopment priorities.
Maybe the bump outs would be part of that plan and be the highest priority, he said – without revisiting the plan, however, they wouldn’t know.
Mayor Gillmor, another agency member, also agreed, noting that the city’s redevelopment funds are limited and the city has to be mindful of getting the most for the money.
He said he was “absolutely not” in favor of spending $250,000 on the bump outs.
Agency member Andrea Coy said she does support the bump outs but not at the cost. She said Herlihy’s presentation of New Smyrna Beach was on point.
“It’s the package,” she said. “We do need the bump outs.”
Coy added that she does not want the city to throw out the plans for bump outs but just hold on to them for the time being while they work out a revised master plan.
“This is a good start,” she said.
Agency member Eugene Wolff suggested that if the city were not to move forward with bump outs, that perhaps business owners – in particularly Robinson – could apply for a redevelopment grant to have a bump out built in front of their stores.
Minner said Robinson had approached the city about having a bump out installed in front of her shop and staff recommended against it.
Wolff said that if Robinson were to get a bump out, the city could take a year to analyze its impact on her business before deciding whether to proceed with 23 others.
Hill was adamantly opposed to the idea.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” he said, “completely inappropriate.”
The issue of bump outs on US 1 could come back when the Sebastian Community Redevelopment Agency – consisting of the city council’s members – holds public workshops later to update the redevelopment master plan.