GIBA discusses new sidewalk to Bike Path, Watkins re-elected as chairman

GIBA discusses new sidewalk to Bike Path, Watkins re-elected as chairman

BY KATHY BANSON-VERRICO – A new sidewalk from North Gulf Shores to the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Bike Path was discussed at the quarterly meeting of the Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority, held on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

The Board discussed with members of the Gulf Shores North Property Owners Association the plans for the creation of the five-foot sidewalk. The creation of this path has been in the planning stages with GIBA for more than two years, including the confirmation of the legal description of right-of- way ownership with Charlotte County, the requiring of a transfer of additional footage by Charlotte County to GIBA in order to meet the bike path, and the placement of a crosswalk to facilitate safe passage from west to east. GIBA confirmed that the path would not be on the Association’s property, and the drainage would continue to be in the drainage easement on the west side of the sidewalk. Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners are set to vote on the transfer at their March meeting.

In the executive director’s report it was mentioned that the toll collection system upgrade is nearing completion. The system designer is working on the final programming to ensure GIBA’s new toll platform will meet all credit- card compliance regulations. Once the programming is complete and tested, the new GIBA interactive website will go live. Staff anticipates the new website will be available within the next month.

All current toll rates and policies will remain the same.

The Board continued a previous discussion of the parameters for allowing the placement of a cell tower onto GIBA’s right-of-way along the Causeway. The discussion identified legal issues within the Florida legislation creating GIBA, which includes the stated mission of the Authority and use of the land. There will be further review and discussion at the next meeting.

In financial news, GIBA independent auditor Tom Cramer from Suplee Shea Cramer and Rocklein presented the fiscal year 2019 audit, which showed that GIBA is in a strong financial position and was given a clean audit report. Finance/Audit Chairman Drew Tucker presented the fiscal year 2020 first-quarter financial statements.

Lastly, Ginger Watkins was re-elected as chairman of the Authority, with Bill Klettke serving as vice chairman, and it was announced that GIBA has an Advisory Board position opening. Advisory Board members are nonvoting Board members serving four-year terms. Any interested parties should contact GIBA Executive Director Kathy Banson-Verrico at (941) 697-2271.