Keystone Heights residents got first look at upcoming streetscape project

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 10/31/18

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS — For the first time since the Streetscape project inception, the residents of Keystone Heights were able to speak directly with the Florida Department of Transportation about what …

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Keystone Heights residents got first look at upcoming streetscape project

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS — For the first time since the Streetscape project inception, the residents of Keystone Heights were able to speak directly with the Florida Department of Transportation about what the project will do for the city.

Held on Oct. 25, the FDOT and Keystone Heights City Council held a Streetscape open house at city council chambers. Here, not only were the City Manager and Mayor present, but representatives of FDOT were there to answer any questions residents might have had.

“This is the first time we’re getting direct feedback like this, but so far, it’s been pretty positive,” Keystone Heights Mayor Karen Lake said. “There are some minor concerns, like construction times, but overall, people seem to be excited about this.”

While this project has been on the table for years, this open house served as the first time residents were able to see what the project might actually look like. While not too many residents made an appearance during this open house, there will be another in the coming months to give residents another chance to speak with project officials.

The $7.2 million project will span 7.2 miles of Keystone Heights, or a 5-block area running along State Road 21 from East Walker Drive south to Lakeview Drive.

“We’ll be paying for some small things like landscaping along the road, but for the most part, FDOT is covering the $7.2 million,” Keystone Heights City Manager Scott Kornegay said.

At the most recent Keystone Heights meeting, Kornegay announced that the project would start Spring 2019, but as projects as large as these go, it seems the start date has changed. According to the FDOT Public Information Specialist Sara Pleasants, construction will begin in the summer of 2020 and end in the fall of 2021.

According to Kornegay, despite changing construction dates, the scope of the project mostly remained the same. The 7.2-mile stretch will be resurfaced, widened and will receive multiple bulb-outs. These bulb-outs will not only make pedestrian crosswalks safer by shortening the distance pedestrians have to cross, but the improvements will make on-street parking more efficient.

“There will be marked horizontal parking space that will allow for more cars to park,” Kornegay said.

Currently, the on-street parking does not have designated spaces in many areas — there are areas marked for horizontal parking, but how many cars fit in that space depends on how drivers choose to park.

During construction, two driveways will be closed, but these driveways lead to nothing more than wooded areas. Kornegay said the closure of these two driveways won’t affect traffic on State Road 21.

When the Streetscape construction is done, Kornegay said that stretch of State Road 21 will act as Main Street, U.S.A of Keystone Heights. There will be new ornamental light fixtures and light poles along the road, new landscaping and more. The street will feature new light mechanisms along the yellow line powered by solar that will serve as more effective reflectors.

Mark Natirboff owns property along this stretch of State Road 21 and despite the incoming construction, he’s excited to see what Streetscape brings to the city.

“You know, my opinion could change when the construction actually starts, but right now, I don’t have anything negative to say about it,” Natirboff said. “It looks positive for the community, and it sounds like this area will be quite beautiful because of it.”

Like Natirboff, Lake said this project will give Keystone Heights the facelift its needed for quite some time. For her, it will make all of the difference in the city becoming what she’s always imagined it as.

“This project, Streetscape, is the difference between a nice but standard downtown and a quaint, walkable downtown that you really want to be in,” Lake said. “I can’t wait for it to be here.”

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