MANATEE -- Residents of University Pines say they are fighting an uphill battle to get traffic to slow down on Country Parkway, which feeds into University Parkway.
Until a few years ago, Country Parkway dead-ended at the Conservatory property, an environmentally sensitive tract of land.
That changed when The Ryland Group purchased 118 acres of the property for its Sonoma project.
Manatee County government subsequently purchased 55 acres of the property from Ryland. The county is developing the land as a passive park around a natural 10-acre lake.
While the park has not been completed, Sonoma has been developed, which placed additional traffic on Country Park Way.
Residents of University Pines and the adjacent Sylvan Woods have asked Manatee County government for help, preferably to put in a four-way stop at Ithaca Lane, or at least add speed tables to Country Park Way.
Many motorists ignore the 30 mph speed limit, accelerating well above the posted limit trying to catch the green light at University Parkway before it changes, said Jim Fewell, vice president of the University Pines homeowners association.
While there have been no injuries there to date, that could change unless preventive action is taken, Fewell said.
Nearly 300 area residents agree and have signed a petition asking for help from the county.
Len Ebeling has lived in the Disney Subdivision on the east side of Country Park Way for the past 21 years.
“This was a great place to raise your kids. We hoped the Conservatory would remain natural parkland,” Ebeling said.
Ebeling has to back out of his driveway onto Country Park Way, and fears for his safety because of speeding drivers.
“It has become extremely dangerous. Why not have a four-way stop to control traffic?” Ebeling said.
Ebeling and Fewell say they are trying to be proactive, rather than reactive.
But they have become discouraged with their inability to gain traffic calming measures.
Fewell has a stack of correspondence with the county’s traffic engineering division.
“The data indicated that 85 percent of vehicles were traveling at or below 36 mph (30 mph posted speed limit). Hence, we are recommending the installation of a speed table within the area,” the county wrote in January.
But later, the county told the homeowners association that it could not go forward with the requested speed tables unless all adjacent property owners agreed to their installation.
The county still hasn’t received support from two of those adjacent property owners, and the ball remains in the homeowners association’s court, Nick Azzara, county information outreach coordinator, said Friday.
One of the houses the county referred to is vacant, and the homeowner of the second has declined to support the speed tables, Fewell said.
But even if full community support for traffic calming measures was achieved, “budget constraints may be an issue,” a senior engineering specialist for the county advised Fewell in an email.
Fewell said he is frustrated with the inability to get the problem resolved.
“We feel like they aren’t playing fair with us,” he said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.