Seagrove resident Dr. Carolynn Zonia made an impassioned plea to Walton County Commissioners Tuesday to move the bike path at the County Road 395 and County Highway 30A intersection to the south side of 30A.
Zonia is an emergency room physician and told commissioners about a young Pensacola girl who was killed as she rode her bike on her way to school last month. The driver of the vehicle that hit the girl said he did not see her.
"Many so-called accidents are predictable and preventable," Zonia told commissioners. "All it would take to keep something like that from happening here is to move the multi-use path at the 395/30A intersection to the south side of 30A. I am here to speak to your conscious. I am a constituent who uses that path daily. I need you to be courageous and reverse decisions that were made in the past. Say Delilgha Rosa Clark's name. Do this for her and you will have all of us behind you."
Zonia is referring to the agreement commissioners made with the Stephens family stating that the bike path would not be moved from the north side of 30A to the south side for 10 years.
The agreement was made two years ago with the Stephens family, who own the property on the south side of the intersection.
"It was adopted by the previous board and we have substantially created terms of the agreement," said Assistant County Attorney Sidney Noyes. "It would be virtually impossible to back out now."
Zonia disagreed about the impossibility and reminded commissioners that the county has police powers and should impose regulations for public safety and welfare.
"I know this is going to be hard but we elect you to be brave and do the right thing," said Zonia. "In your hearts I believe you know the right thing is for that path to be on the south side."
Noyes said she will look at the contract again with previous county attorney, Mark Davis.
District 2 Commissioner Cecilia Jones said getting a connector road in place to take some of the congestion off that intersection will take at least nine months.
"It's not a real easy thing. It's a safety issue on both sides," Jones.
The agreement was made in 2015.
Davis told commissioners at a previous meeting that the project was already in the design phase.
At that meeting, Gary Vorbeck, an attorney representing EBSCO Industries, which the Stephens family owns, said the contract is valid and there was no need to bring the issue up again.
"We're at the finish line and recording deeds," said Vorbeck at that time.
Vorbeck was referring to the fact that there were several residents at that meeting who spoke in support of moving the path to the south side.
Davis stated at that time that he had offered to go back to Vorbeck to talk about renegotiation but was told not to.
Davis stated that before the 10-year agreement is up, the only out would be for health and safety reasons pertaining to the community.
"After 10 years if we fund, we will alter," Davis told commissioners. "Everyone knows what health and safety is. If evidence is presented, we would redesign."
Resident Dana Harmon was at that meeting and asked for a definition of "health and safety" reason and reminded commissioners that the Planning Department had stated that the path should be moved to the south side as well as an independent study.
Currently, plans are to redesign the 395 and 30A intersection.