By Mary Thurwachter
A year after Hurricane Irma left the trail at the Nature Preserve in shambles, the Lantana Town Council is still grappling with the best way to restore it. Only the front portion of the path is accessible.
In May, the council talked about constructing a concrete path, a $66,000 project that would be built over two years. But council members said they weren’t thrilled with the idea of a concrete walkway in a nature preserve, and some thought the cost was too high. They asked Town Manger Deborah Manzo to look into other options, including one with composite wood and hand railings.
On Oct. 8, Manzo presented an estimate of $709,470 from Marlin Marine Construction for a composite wood path with handrails and pilings. Council members said that project was out of its price range.
Manzo said another option for the 6½-acre preserve at 440 E. Ocean Ave. would be to use treated wood, where the planks for the same square footage as the composite trail would be $8,279 (installation costs were not available). Council member Phil Aridas said he thought a pressure-treated wood boardwalk was the way to go, but others had different ideas.
Vice Mayor Ed Shropshire suggested pavers and said Water Tower Commons was going to have them.
Council member Malcolm Balfour said a macadam path like those at many golf courses would be far less expensive.
“Concrete, which I’m not crazy about, is far better than pavers and certainly better than $709,470,” said council member Lynn Moorhouse. “Pavers move.”
To cover all bases, Manzo was directed to get estimates on a path made of pressure treated wood, from pavers and on macadam.
Mayor Dave Stewart said the town, because of an agreement made when the Nature Preserve was built in the late 1990s, cannot spend any more on the property than the $50,000 annual payment it receives from the Carlisle senior living facility next door. The town’s annual cost to maintain the park is about $20,000, leaving $30,000 to spend each year on needed improvements.
Manzo said some funds for the project could be carried over from this year “because we had planned on doing the smaller portion of the path in fiscal year 2018 and since we have not, we will carry those funds over and use the other funds for fiscal year 2019.”
The smaller loop of the trail would be tackled the first year and the larger loop the following year, Manzo said.
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.