Approximately 300 people showed up to the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency kick-off meeting at the Holy Comforter School to hear a presentation about the Northeast Gateway.
After an informal question and answer session and a 45 minute presentation by officials, speaker after speaker voiced their concern about how the project would impact Killean Estates by connecting Shamrock, a two-lane road, to a new four-lane road, Welanuee Boulevard.
The basketball gym at the Holy Comforter Episcopal School was set-up with information kiosks addressing different aspects of the project. Blueprint and engineering officials were on hand to answer questions as interested citizens moved from kiosk to kiosk.
Shortly after 5:30 the presentation began.
Officials said the purpose of the meeting was to introduce the project. The presenters explained that the Planning, Development, & Environmental (PD&E) study and the public meeting were the first steps in an 18 month process that will result in a well vetted project.
The PD&E process ensures that consideration is given to engineering design, project costs, environmental and social impacts, and public input in the development of major transportation projects.
Officials said the purpose of the Northeast Gateway was to improve regional mobility and reduce traffic congestion by alleviating pressure on Centerville, Miccosukee and Thomasville Roads.
Citizens were told that feedback from the meeting would be taken into consideration. In addition, informal meetings could be scheduled by neighborhood groups.
In the Fall of 2019 an alternatives meeting will take place and various options will be considered. After that meeting, final revisions and recommendations will be produced ahead of a formal public hearing in the Spring of 2020.
Construction on the approved project is scheduled to begin in 2023.
Officials made it clear that there would be a lot of opportunity for public input throughout the process.
Near the end of the presentation, attendees had not yet been given an opportunity to comment and some citizens lost their patience and began shouting questions from their seats. Eventually, a microphone was passed around to speakers.
The focus of most comments addressed the impact of the project on Killearn Estates.
David Ferguson, the President of the Killearn Homeowners Association, said that KHA opposes the project and called it an “absolute disaster” for Killearn Estates.
Philip Inglese, a KHA board member, said that “Killearn Estates is getting dumped on.”
Dr. Erwin Jackson, who lives in Killearn Estates, said the project should be renamed “the death of Killearn Estates.”
Other comments included:
“the comprehensive plan should protect neighborhoods, this will ruin Killearn.”
“this only makes sense for developers.”
“take the extension up to Roberts Road.”
David Ferguson, the president of the KHA, told TR that he will look into setting up an informal meeting with project officials so that Killearn Estates’ residents can provide more input.
A local government official, who wished to remain anonymous, told TR that the meeting was more boisterous than the recent town hall meetings addressing the location of the new police headquarters.
TR will reach out to elected officials to gauge their thoughts on the project as presented at the meeting.