By Mary Thurwachter
A proposal to construct a concrete trail at the Lantana Nature Preserve got mixed reviews from the Town Council on May 14. The discussion prompted the town to look at other ways to rebuild the pathway, including a boardwalk.
Last year’s Hurricane Irma left the preserve and the trail in shambles. Only the front portion is currently accessible.
Town Manager Deborah Manzo proposed a 5-foot-wide concrete trail at a cost of $33,000 for the first phase. The project would be spread over two years, so another $33,000 would be spent next year for a total project cost of $66,000. Most of the money would come from the Carlisle Palm Beach, just east of the 6½-acre preserve at 440 E. Ocean Ave.
As a result of a deal struck when the Carlisle senior living facility was built on land the town owned at the time, the Carlisle pays Lantana $50,000 a year for preserve expenses.
Between $1,000 and $2,000 for the pathway project would come from FEMA, which supports repairs such as this as an improvement or mitigation project. The town’s annual cost to maintain the park is $20,000.
“That [$66,000] seems like rather a lot of money for a path,” said council member Malcolm Balfour, who lives near the preserve. “But something needs to be done. There are so many rocks there. It’s almost impossible to walk through.”
Some council members didn’t like the idea of concrete being used.
“It’s a nature preserve,” council member Lynn Moorhouse stressed. “I have reservations.”
Mayor Dave Stewart asked for other options. “It’s not intended to be manicured like a country club,” he said.
“The shell rock wasn’t working,” Manzo said. “Granite sand was tried and washed away.” Mulch also washes away.
Council member Phil Aridas suggested a boardwalk.
“If it’s boardwalk, it would be recycled lumber, which is very expensive,” Manzo said. Recycled lumber is being used at the beach and holds up better, she said.
Balfour said the town needs to consider where most of the money for Nature Preserve improvements and maintenance come from. “We have to remember that the place is mostly funded by the old-age home and we need to make it comfortable for them,” he said. Since the hurricane, Carlisle residents haven’t been able to get in to enjoy the butterfly garden or other parts of the preserve.
Manzo will bring back all options and prices at a future meeting.
In other news, the council approved spending $51,965 to install new hurricane shutters on the town library. Most of the money will come from a federal grant. The town’s contribution would be $17,321.