By Mary Thurwachter
After a June 12 decision to use asphalt for the pathway at the Lantana Nature Preserve didn’t sit well with several residents who voiced their concerns at subsequent meetings, the Town Council agreed to revisit the issue. But the outcome of a second vote in August had the same conclusion — asphalt.
The discussion over what material to use for the pathway has stretched almost two years — after Hurricane Irma severely damaged the shell rock path.
In May 2018, the town considered replacing the path with a concrete trail, a $66,000 project that would be built over two years. But many residents said they weren’t thrilled with the idea of a concrete walkway in a nature preserve. Others said the cost was excessive.
Since then, various ideas on material have been proposed, including paver stones, treated wood, shell rock and gunite, which is a mixture of sand, water and cement.
Budgetary constraints — due to an agreement made when the Nature Preserve was built in the late 1990s — limit the town to spending no more than the $50,000 annual payment it receives from the Carlisle senior living facility next door. And that $50,000 includes maintenance.
Asphalt, with an estimated cost of $56,000, was the most affordable material considered. But some argued that asphalt, a petroleum product, would be environmentally harmful and not suitable for the 61/2-acre park.
Council members argued that asphalt has changed in consistency and contains much less oil than it did years ago. They also noted that asphalt was used for paths in county parks.
Vice Mayor Malcolm Balfour said he found that asphalt was the recommended choice for the pathway in the original plans.
But Balfour’s wife, Ilona Balfour, said there are other issues the town needs to be concerned about at the park.
“The Nature Preserve has been suffering from benign neglect for some time,” she said. “It’s overgrown with weeds and invasives. There should be someone checking in regularly.”
In other news, the council agreed to revisit its July vote to allow FPL to install 4,000-Kelvin streetlamps.
Council member Lynn Moorhouse said that since the vote was taken, he talked to residents and others who had done extensive research on the lights and they considered the 4,000Ks to be a poor choice.
“I met with a lot of people in town and I spent a good bit of time talking with Mike Bornstein, who went through this with Lake Worth,” Moorhouse said, referring to the city manager for Lake Worth Beach. “Studies had been done by environmental groups. The bottom line is a light of that intensity does a lot of harm to humans, animals, flowers, fauna, you name it. It’s not a good fit.
“I didn’t have that information when we brought it up and voted for it. I’d like to bring it up at a future council meeting.
“There are some people who have expertise,” Moorhouse said. “We got a one-sided story from FPL. We voted on it accordingly and it seemed good. There’s another side to the story and it should be presented.”
One resident who did extensive research on the subject is Media Beverly of Hypoluxo Island. She plans to share that information with the town when the matter comes up again on Sept. 9.
“I really do believe that had you been given all the information during the first meeting when FPL made its presentation that you really would have come to a different conclusion,” Beverly said. “My research shows that the 4,000K lighting is nothing but detrimental and that anything below 3,000 would be acceptable.”
Also coming up in September are public budget hearings at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 9 and Sept. 23 in council chambers. The town set its proposed tax rate at $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the next fiscal year.