Michael Witte enjoys taking his young children to the pool at Nautica Isles, the gated, single-family home community where he’s lived the past seven years.
What Witte, a 43-year-old luxury cruise ship director, doesn’t like is dodging speeding cars on Nautica Isles Boulevard while walking through the crosswalk where he said motorists routinely drive 10 to 15 miles faster than the posted 25 mph speed limit.
“It’s just getting progressively worse,” Witte said.
While there are several signs on both sides of the street alerting motorists of an upcoming crosswalk and instructing them to stop if they see pedestrians walking there, according to Witte, those signs aren’t helping.
“People disregard them,” he said.
Greenacres Councilman John Tharp, who has lived in Nautica Isles West since it opened 10 years ago, said he has the same concerns as Witte.
“Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before a kid gets hit,” Tharp said. “We’re no different from any other community. About 90 percent of the people are fine, but it’s those 10 percent where you shake your head.”
Witte brought up the issue at the July 15 council meeting. Three days later, the city placed a speed trailer in front of the entrance on Nautica Isles Boulevard and followed up with traffic enforcement.
The average speed on July 18 and 19, according to City Manager Wadie Atallah, was 26 mph. As of late Wednesday, the city had issued 39 tickets, but Atallah said those included all infractions, not just speeding on Nautica Isles Boulevard.
This isn’t the first time the city has placed a speed trailer at the community. After a resident complained in 2011, the city installed a trailer. It did so again in August 2012. The average speed last August, Atallah said, was 25.2 mph, with roughly 4.6 percent of motorists driving 35 mph.
The residents’ concern goes as far back as 2006, Atallah said. At that time, the city’s traffic engineer reviewed the crossing and recommended additional signs. But the engineer didn’t recommend installing a stop sign, a move Witte supports.
Atallah said the engineer concluded there wasn’t enough traffic on the street to justify installing a stop sign on a main road. Speed bumps, Atallah said, aren’t an option, either, because they slow down response times for emergency vehicles.
Meanwhile, the community’s homeowner’s association is hamstrung because Nautica Isles Boulevard is owned by the county, not the development.
“The HOA is leaving it up to me to continue dealing with the city and to update them,” Witte said.
Katherine Balliache, Nautica Isles’ property manager, wasn’t available for comment.
But Atallah said the city keeps addressing residents’ concerns.
Witte, whose job keeps him away from home eight months out of the year, said he will continue to press the issue.
“It’s important for me to know that while I’m away, my wife and kids are safe,” he said. “God forbid I’m on a ship in Istanbul and I get a call that (my family) got hit from somebody speeding. We enjoy living here, but we just want it to be safe.”