Fort Myers Beach Town Council

127

Ask the Candidate

In preparation for the March 7th election, the Sand Paper contacted Town Council candidates with a question regarding a topic of interest to Island residents. Their answers are printed here alphabetically. This week’s question:

Do you support a Fort Myers Beach stormwater system that will, at minimum, allow for the completion of the Estero Blvd renovation to the south end of the island? 

 Bruce Butcher’s response:

The Estero Blvd. project is critical for Estero Island. It combines new potable water lines, sewer lines and storm water drainage with dramatically improved roadways and sidewalks on both sides of the Blvd. We cannot allow the progress on Estero Blvd to be delayed or stopped. It will certainly cost us much more money and pain if we delay this project. At a minimum we must complete a stormwater system that allows the completion of Estero Blvd.

Therefore, without delay, we must improve our partnership and work collectively with Lee County to provide the infrastructure needed to manage the Estero Blvd storm water project.

The planning phase of this project should identify the specific storm water needs for each street to determine the required new infrastructure, or enhancements to existing facilities, so that we can provide the required level of service needed. The goal would be to provide the necessary storm water service with the least investment and lowest ongoing maintenance cost.

A storm water utility fee based on developed land’s contribution (impervious area) would be utilized for financing. Reducing the established utility fee would be accomplished by utilizing best financing options, applying for grants and looking for additional revenue streams. Previous storm water projects on Ft Myers Beach have utilized gas tax funds, impact fees and monies from the South Florida Water Management District. As with all projects, we should benchmark our progress and manage with the best business practices.

Anita Cereceda’s response:

Yes I do support the stormwater project. It is essential that it be completed and not simply at a minimum standard. We deserve better than that. I suppose depending on what street you live on at this point, your opinion might sway one way or another. If you live on Andre Mar for example you recognize just how critical it is. If you live on Madison Street you know darn well that you can’t get out of your own driveway after a good rain.

Fortunately for people on Delmar, Fairweather and the northern areas of the island, their issues have already been solved to a large degree but for a majority of the island, stormwater has yet to be addressed.

This isn’t just a convenience issue but one of general safety and Welfare to ourselves personally and our environment. We simply cannot continue to allow filthy run-off to pollute our canals and Back Bay. We must do our best to preserve our natural resources and our neighborhoods.

It is unfortunate that there has been so much incorrect information about the stormwater project. The town has done and will continue to do its best to make sure that each Street has what it needs, not more, not less. That should be our goal.

Forrest “Butch” Critser’s response:

The storm water project is the single most important issue facing our town today. We must prioritize the completion of this project in the most efficient, effective and expedient way possible. Finishing this project is critical to our economy and environment and we should not kick the proverbial can down the road for future generations and councils to deal with. This long overdue project not only will help prevent flooding but will also play a critical role in our fight to improve our water quality.

 Joanne Shamp’s response:

Yes. We must complete the boulevard renovation and fix the few neighborhood streets that have flooding not helped by draining Estero Boulevard, however, we should NOT construct new expensive pipes on every side street.

Estero Boulevard floods due to rain on the impervious pavement and rain run-off from the town and private properties along it. That is a joint county/town responsibility and our Comprehensive Plan supports stormwater control in goals for our water quality and evacuation route.

Flooding also occurs at intersections where town side streets meet Estero Boulevard. The new boulevard stormwater system has extra drains at those intersections, which should care for problems at a number of these neighborhood street corners.

A few side streets flood significantly within a neighborhood and are a priority. They may require new pipes and outfalls. The town must, however, contain spending and limit construction of new in-ground pipes elsewhere by maintaining the system we already have and using less expensive and environmentally-friendly methods such as swales, porous (pervious) surfaces, rain gardens, and retention ponds wherever possible. Please read about the town PRIZM program to know how you can responsibly control drainage from your private property.

I have studied this issue in depth. When appointed to Council in December I voted yes on the stormwater interlocal agreement for the boulevard project. If elected I promise to vote to complete the boulevard project while diligently controlling the size and cost of the town stormwater system to keep our debt and stormwater utility bills low.

Ber Stevenson’s response:

The new storm water system is supposedly designed to handle 7.21 inches of rainfall per 24-hour period. However, Tetra Tech (who engineered the system) has admitted that it does not know or guarantee if the system will actually work as designed. That is disturbing to me.

Instead of continuing installation of this unproven storm water system, I think that we should wrap up the portion of the project currently under construction, and TEST THIS NEW SYSTEM BEFORE CONTINUING. I believe to do anything else would be potentially costly in time and money, neither of which our residents and businesses can afford.

I will be very interested in what transpires on February 17 at the planned Town Hall workshop to discuss the remaining 30% of the Estero Boulevard project, which will address the plans for the south end of the Island. Hopefully these plans will be presented in detail, but simple enough, so that everyone in attendance will have a better idea of exactly where we stand for this remaining portion of the project.

Bottom line is that I do not have much faith in the success of the storm water system that is currently being installed on Estero Boulevard, and do not think that we should complete installation of this system on the south end of the Island until we know how well it does (or does not) work by testing what has already been installed.