By Pam Nicholls GSAC Board Member
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The project to restore the landscaping along Seagate Drive and the Seagate Linear Park destroyed by Hurricane Ian is temporarily on hold, according to City Parks & Recreation Director Chad Merritt. The lack of action is the result of multiple factors. Timing, funding and, principally, the Seagate Undergrounding project, all come into it says Meritt.

“It has been a long road, but we are getting closer and closer.”

After Hurricane Ian, City staff cleaned up the area and removed 1500 ft of landscape material destroyed by the storm surge. At the same time the Florida Power and Light (FPL) project to bring over ground power, cable and communication lines underground in the neighborhood, was also underway.

Merritt says his team is waiting on FPL to remove the remaining lines and poles before they can replace shrubs and sod. “Their equipment is likely to be all over the medians and we don’t want to risk damage to new vegetation.” Same goes for the irrigation system. The new landscape plan calls for some reconfiguration to the existing set up and Merritt thinks it’s inopportune to make a start before FPL is finished.

January is the earliest FPL are projecting as a start date to complete their project.

The timing is problematic. Winter is the worst time of year to plant.

“During the winter months the cooler temperatures and dry conditions make it difficult to establish new landscaping,” explained Merritt. “This median is a large area and would require a lot of water, and we would need warm weather to ensure the plants have an optimal chance to survive.”

“We must be very careful with our strategy on replanting, so we do not waste tax money.”

Merritt said the City is also working with FPL to recover a portion of the costs of restoration, since funding for the landscaping is not covered by FEMA.

“They (FPL) could save us money and we would not want to rush things to jeopardize that opportunity.”

Merritt said he would continue to keep HOA managers and presidents informed of any updates.