MADEIRA BEACH — Asphalt, rather than pervious pavement that had been seen as an environmentally friendly choice, will be used on upcoming roadway and drainage projects in the city. The City Commission, in a 3-to-1 vote, rejected an ordinance that would have approved use of the porous surface, along with a $1.2 million grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District to help pay its additional $1.4 million cost.

The action was taken at the March 10 commission meeting in connection with a project to improve the drainage and paving on Parsley and Marguerite drives and 129th and 131st avenues.

Even with the grant funding, the use of pervious pavement would still cost the city about $200,000 more than asphalt. The total project cost is $4.5 million.

Pervious pavement was the choice for recent road/drainage projects on Boca Ciega Drive and 137th Avenue. It allows water to soak through and into the ground, rather than run off, and is seen as a green choice that helps improve water quality in the Bay.

But resident Chuck Dillon, who has been advising the city on road construction projects, said “conditions are not very good” on the roadways where pervious pavement has been used. “I am not a believer in it,” he said.

Dillon said maintenance on Boca Ciega Drive and 137th Avenue has been ongoing and is “a big ordeal.”

“My recommendation is not to go with pervious pavements,” said Dillon.

Resident Robert Preston said permeable pavement requires ongoing attention, which adds to its expense. “Put in asphalt and you’re done,” Preston said.

John’s Pass Village business owner Guy Critelli said pervious pavement “does not work.”

But resident Helen Price, who lives on Boca Ciega Drive, which was reconstructed using pervious pavement, said, “I’m very excited to get it on my road.”

“I really like my road,” Price said. “It dries very quickly. Water goes through it. There are positive implications for reducing flooding. It’s a much greener way to go.”

Commissioner John Douthirt said he has “issues” with pervious pavement. Sand and grass cuttings fill it in, he said. “We’d have to run the street sweeper 24 hours a day.”

Commissioner Deby Weinstein said she walks the streets with pervious pavement daily. “We had inspections done. It wasn’t satisfactory. It’s already sinking,” she said. “I have to base my opinion on what I’m seeing.”

Weinstein also said she believes the environmentally friendly claims for pervious pavement are “a marketing approach.” She too cited the extra maintenance as an issue.

Public Works Director Jamie Ahrens said the green advantages of permeable pavement are important. “In a coastal community, there are limited ways we can have an environmental impact. Pervious pavement is one of the few things we can do. If we are willing to install it, and Swiftmud is willing to provide some assistance, we should pursue that,” he said.

Ahrens also told the commission the pavement decision “will have to be made tonight,” as the deadline for the SWFWMD grant expires before next month’s commission meeting.

The commission decided to go with asphalt pavement. Weinstein, Douthirt and Mayor Maggi Black were in favor of the asphalt, with Commissioner Nancy Hodges opposed, and Commissioner Doug Andrews absent.

Reducing marine speed on Crystal Island

The commission took what City Manager Bob Daniels said is the first step toward addressing an ongoing problem with boaters speeding through the city’s waterways.

A resolution passed unanimously by the commission requests the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to slow the speed outside the main channel on Crystal Island to minimum wake (30 mph).

Daniels said boaters have been “cutting the corners” on the island and getting too close to the land. A city memo said “numerous complaints have been received from boat owners along Crystal Island concerning boat and docks damaged by the wake created by speeding boats operating outside the navigation channel.”

The memo also said manatees have been observed frequently within the city’s waterways.

Boaters are going too close to the land, Daniels said. “Hopefully this will be the fix to stop them.”

Daniels said passage of the resolution starts the process. If everything goes as planned, he said, “by summer we will be able to put the (wake zone) signs up.”

Douthirt wanted to know how the speed limit will be enforced. It is the responsibility of the marine patrol and the FWC, Daniels said.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Weinstein. She said slowing the speed in the waterways has been talked about for years, and nothing was done.

“I am very happy this is being resurrected,” Weinstein said.

Resident Ray Kerr said he commends the commission for staying with this topic. “We can’t enforce (a slower speed) now because there is no law against what is going on,” he said.