Council discussed a number of things at their workshop on Monday, including a short-term plan for immediate stormwater improvements, the future of the Town’s Farmers Market and a new route that will take airplanes over the back bay rather than the center of the island.
During public comment, George Repetti, representing Island’s End condominiums, asked Council why his building is being charged $6,000 for stormwater utility fees.
“I filed an appeal and I haven’t heard anything,” he said. “I’d like to hear from your engineers as to what is considered pervious and impervious, as I believe the decision was based on fraudulent information.”
Four residents of Hercules Street asked if their dock was going to be replaced, saying they had been using it for years without complaints – adding that the Tourist Development Council (TDC) turned down their request to pay for a new dock. They asked if Council would consider paying for it, and requested that they ask the county to return the playground equipment to Lynn Hall Park.
Mayor Anita Cereceda recognized outgoing Permit Coordinator Max Williams as being a valuable employee of the Town, and wished her luck in her new private sector position.
“You will be sorely missed,” she said, and Town Manager Don Stilwell said ‘no one works harder than Max’. His words were echoed by Code Enforcement Officer Molly Jacobs, who called her ‘a guiding light’.
Public Works Director Scott Baker presented Council with plans to make short-term stormwater improvements on a budget of $50,000.
“The Town’s never done any basic maintenance, but once we do a swale restoration it shouldn’t be that big of a deal to maintain it once we start,” he said. “Basic maintenance costs $180/hour, so 200 hours of that is $36,000. Swale reclamation costs $7/foot, so 2,000 square feet – about one street’s worth – is $14,000. Remember that – with 42 miles of roads, we are talking about 84 miles of swales.”
Cereceda wanted to know what streets of swale reclamation this covers.
“As we do our stormwater cleanup, we look at the streets that are bad – right now the worst one is Andre Mar,” he said.
“How many months – at $19/month – will it take to get the initial $50,000 to start this – how long before we can do each street that needs it,” Councilman Alan Mandel asked, and Baker replied he would return to him with that information.
Cereceda said that what she is looking for is a simple, line-item assessment as to what can be done and when.
“This way we can tell people, ‘Mr. Smith, your street is scheduled for January’,” she said. Baker replied all of that information will be in the master plan – which will be completed by the end of the summer.
Councilwoman Summer Stockton asked about Repetti’s request, and Baker replied that staff is working through the appeals ‘as they get them’, and that about half – including Repetti’s – have been completed.
Next, Stilwell reported that Lee County has asked every municipality for their input regarding the tentative priority list for future transportation funding.
“I’m going to ask the county to look into night time work, and the costs associated with that, as they move forward with Estero Boulevard reconstruction,” Cereceda said. “I also think we should touch base with the City of Bonita Springs regarding the Big Carlos Pass bridge, New Pass and the entire stretch separating our two communities.”
During Councilmembers’ Items, Stockton wanted to know why stores who are not located on the beach are renting chairs and asked that code enforcement look into the issue.
“They are renting chairs and delivering them to the beach, and this is against our chair rental ordinance,” she said
Stockton then asked why no members have been reappointed to the Bay Oaks Recreation Campus Advisory Board (BORCAB).
Cereceda agreed that the committee should be reappointed.
“It leaves the community with a sense that there’s a pending action, and there’s not,” she said. “As we move into this ‘reorganization phase’ they could be an integral part of that.”
Mandel said he thought Council was waiting for staff to return with a plan, and Stockton asked Stilwell if his plan is to ‘get rid of Bay Oaks’.
Stilwell replied that’s not true, but said he doesn’t think BORCAB should be involved with the reorganization efforts.
“The Town has a lot of liability – you have buildings that require a lot of maintenance, and pool that requires a lot of maintenance,” he said.
Councilwoman Rexann Hosafros said she has looked at all the committees, saying that the Local Planning Agency (LPA) and the Audit Committee are absolutely necessary.
“I think we could consolidate the other committees,” she said. Council agreed to reappoint the BORCAB members at their meeting later that afternoon.
Some discussion was had about the Town’s Farmer’s Market – which isn’t doing as well in its new location at Bay Oaks.
“We have two thriving markets – one at the Baptist Church and one in Santini, and I have had discussions with the vendors at ours to fold into one of them,” Cereceda said. “Though I do think ours will catch eventually, I don’t think the Town needs to be in the farmer’s market business.”
Andre agreed. Hosafros asked about Hercules, and Baker said the Town has asked to meet with the TDC.
Rexann said that members of the group AIR (Air Intrusion Relief) met with the FAA last week, and were given a chart representing where airplanes fly – showing clearly the thick track over the center of the island.
“One of the lines shows a private approach created by the airport, that arches over the bay instead of the island, and work is being done to make this approach a public one as it saves time and money,” she said. “The fact that the FAA is doing this is huge – I give a great deal of credit to Mr. Slater and his firm as they are finally beginning to listen to us.”
Mandel pointed out that this was actually agreed to two years ago, and only Southwest agreed to use it.
“It’s great to make it available, but I would recommend that the future council ask Port Authority Director Bob Ball to come and talk to us,” he said.
Finally, the mayor asked Stilwell what happened to the quarterly reports from the Town Manager’s office.
“Staff put a lot of time into that, but I think it’s more effective to keep doing what we’ve been doing – if something comes up, I can meet with Council about it,” the Town Manager replied.
Keri Hendry Weeg