Residents along Sandpiper Avenue in Royal Palm Beach have been talking for decades about slowing traffic on their street.
It’s finally going to happen.
The Village Council recently changed its traffic calming policy, which will allow 11 speed bumps on the road between Royal Palm Beach Boulevard and Bobwhite Road. It it expected to take a year before construction is completed.
The council approved a new policy that allowed speed bumps if it hit certain traffic study criteria and 60 percent of the residents in the area voted for them.
That leg of Sandpiper passed all the traffic benchmarks like for speed limit, number of speeding drivers and neighborhood cut-throughs. But despite the best efforts of a few residents rallying their neighborhood, nearly one third of the residents didn’t return their ballots, which counted as “no” votes. That meant that 88 percent of everyone who voted had to be in favor to hit the 60 percent benchmark. The final tally of 79 yes votes and 15 no votes still fell short.
That tipped some members of the council off that the policy may be flawed.
“It’s unreasonable,” Councilman Jeff Hmara said. “I would say if you look at the effort that went into this thing, it’s maybe even unachievable in most cases.”
The council initially approved the tougher benchmark because installing speed bumps isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Once they’re in, they’re in.
But Mayor Fred Pinto said he was worried voter apathy would make it tough. His fears were confirmed with the first attempt.
He pointed out that in elections for council or even U.S. presidents, non-voters just don’t count toward the total. But that makes it problematic because if participation is very low, they could have 15 people making decisions for an entire neighborhood.
Pinto, Hmara and Vice Mayor Richard Valuntas agreed that a simple majority of 5o percent plus one voter is attainable and still representative of what the community wants.
“We certainly have the right to refine the policy to make sure we get it right,” Pinto said.
The change only passed 3-2 because Councilwomen Jan Rosuky and Selena Smith both preferred the higher threshold.
Smith said it seems like the rest of the council only want to change the rules because Sandpiper didn’t get enough support.
The council will also be looking at traffic calming for Sparrow Drive, Ponce De Leon Street and La Mancha Avenue.