By Joe Capozzi

Just in time for the return of winter snowbirds on wheels, town officials are rolling out two safety initiatives to protect residents walking along South Palm Beach’s popular sidewalk next to busy State Road A1A. 
Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies plan to patrol condo entrances to remind drivers entering and exiting the parking lots to watch for pedestrians.  
“We will focus on the influx of residents coming in for the season and try to make the sidewalks as safe as possible,’’ Sgt. Mark Garrison said when he announced the “November Sidewalk Safety Initiative” at the Town Council’s meeting Oct. 18.
Vice Mayor Bill LeRoy said he knew of at least two incidents this summer where people on the sidewalk were nearly struck by vehicles entering or exiting condos. 
As a result, town officials in October started circulating flyers and electronic messages reminding motorists headed to and from A1A to stop and yield to sidewalk pedestrians.  
“Remember to stop. Don’t run over your neighbors,’’ LeRoy said. Motorists “are used to just rolling on out, so please pay attention and stop every time and look both ways, just like they taught you when you learned to ride a bike.’’
Deputies patrolling the walkway will aim to educate motorists, but “a citation can be issued if warranted and is ultimately at the discretion of the deputy stopping the offender,’’ Garrison said after the meeting.
Meanwhile, the pathway along A1A will be enhanced in November with the installation of 44 new solar lights. The posts, technically called bollards, will cost the town $67,000 and complement existing street lights.
“When we have all these people walking up and down the walks this winter, they’re going to have some new lights,’’ LeRoy said before the council passed a resolution with the Florida Department of Transportation allowing town officials to install the lights on the state-owned road.
The lights will turn on automatically every day at 7 p.m.
The two initiatives are just the latest sidewalk safety measures that town officials have approved this year. In April, the commission passed an ordinance requiring commercial vehicles that block sidewalks to provide flagmen or hire off-duty law enforcement officers to help protect pedestrians.

In other business:
• In his comments Oct. 18, Councilman Robert Gottlieb mentioned a report about Hurricane Ian’s storm surge rising 15 feet across part of southwest Florida.
“If we have a 15-foot surge in South Palm Beach, what would happen to us?’’ he said. “We need to take a look at that and learn from the west coast what’s happening and see if we can be better at preparing ourselves for a future, hopefully not, hurricane.’’
Heavy rainfall in October prompted town officials to issue reminders to residents about the remaining king tide forecasts: Nov. 6-9 and Nov. 23-27.
• Waste Management, the town’s trash collector, will ask the council Nov. 15 to approve a monthly rate increase to help the company cover unexpected costs of labor and material. If approved, the increases for each condo unit would range from 41 cents a month to $2.31 cents a month depending on the volume of trash collected. • The council postponed until Nov. 15 a discussion about Town Manager Robert Kellogg’s contract renewal.

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