Second-graders Emma Imperatore and Valentina Autiero presented their request for duck crossing signs to the Town Commission after a duck was killed near Gulf Stream School. “We don’t want that to happen again,” Valentina said. Rachel S. O’Hara/The Coastal Star
By Steve Plunkett
A duck that sadly became roadkill near the Gulf Stream School may become the impetus for new warning signs for motorists in town.
Second-graders Emma Imperatore and Valentina Autiero implored town commissioners to consider creating the signs in what Mayor Scott Morgan proclaimed was an “excellent presentation” on March 13.
“Good morning, everyone,” Valentina began while standing before commissioners. “A few weeks ago outside of our school on Gulfstream Road near the Little Club golf course, I saw a duck that had been run over and killed.
“We don’t want that to happen again because the black Muscovy ducks … cross the street many times a day,” she continued, flanking with Emma a poster board the two girls had handcrafted. “We would like to have two street signs installed that tell people: ‘Slow down, ducks cross here.’ Thank you.”
With their teachers and classmates watching, Emma then gave the girls’ recommendation on where the signs should be located, one for southbound traffic and one for northbound.
Morgan praised the second-graders for undertaking “a very important civic experience.”
“That is, you’ve seen a problem in our town, you want to address it and so you’ve come before the municipal body that has some authority to help grant what you’re seeking,” he said.
Because their proposal would affect both the Gulf Stream School and the Little Club, Morgan told the girls to contact the school’s headmaster and the club’s president and get their consent to installing the signs, then return to the commission on April 9.
“You were very persuasive,” Commissioner Donna White added.
Vice Mayor Tom Stanley wanted more information about Valentina and Emma’s suggested sign, which featured a mama duck leading her three ducklings.
“Can you read the little words on the sign? I mean ‘Duck Crossing’ is good — we all know what that is. But there’s also some extra words on there for emphasis. Can you tell us what those are — for the record?’ he asked.
“Quack, quack, quack, quack,” Emma and Valentina replied to the delight of the commission chambers.
In other business:
• The Little Club withdrew its controversial application to build four pickleball courts. Neighbors at the Hillside House and St. Andrews Club, some of whom lived just 50 feet away, had protested that the fast-growing but noisy sport would detract from their quality of life.
• Town Manager Greg Dunham said he was not permitting members of the public to enter the business side of Town Hall because of the coronavirus. He and other town employees meet people who need services in the lobby, he said.
• Dunham showed commissioners a map of a proposed street running from the entrance of Place Au Soleil to the Intracoastal along the north side of the subdivision. The street would have 14 lots, with the four nearest the waterway being larger than the 10 others.
The Gulf Stream Golf Club and the Florida Inland Navigation District own the land. Dunham said he has hired a land-use expert to evaluate the proposal.
• Commissioners denied a request for a variance from Daniel Stanton that would have let him add a second floor to his Place Au Soleil house 14 feet from the property line instead of 15 feet. Stanton had proposed buying a longtime eyesore next door, demolishing part of it and combining both it and his existing house to make what would have been the largest residence in Place Au Soleil.
Commissioners said the size and mass of the proposed structure were not in keeping with the neighborhood. His purchase of the decrepit house hinged on his getting approval of the remodeling plans.
Real estate broker Zac Mazur, representing the heirs of deceased homeowner Richard Lavoie, said if commissioners would rescind a demand to demolish the property at 2775 Avenue Au Soleil, he could sell it within 90 days to someone who would renovate it.
Over 10 years Lavoie ran up $1.9 million in code enforcement violations at the property, primarily for having a dead lawn and no fence around his swimming pool. Commissioners last October agreed to reduce the lien to $125,000 after Stanton proposed joining the lots.