Cape Coral City Council Monday voted to award a contract to an engineering firm to work on the Utilities Expansion Project in Southwest 6&7, opening the door for the long-dormant UEP to continue.
The vote went as expected, by a 6-2 vote, after deliberations at City Hall during an otherwise anti-climactic meeting.
The agreement with Fort Myers-based Tetra Tech has an amount not to exceed $7,679,332, including a contingency of 5 percent. The contract will stay in effect, if ratified, for up to 84 months.
City business manager Mike Ilczyszyn said this is the vital first step to see what needs to be done.
"This brings on looking at the plans MWH designed and put their seal on those and turn it into as project we can bid out," Ilczyszyn said.
The vote was delayed several weeks after City Manager John Szerlag brought the ordinance forward without a workshop, making council wary.
The vote was given two chances at input from the public and council. Last week's workshop produced virtually no discussion.
Ilczyszyn addressed the concerns of council, particularly those of Mayor John Sullivan and Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, the two who voted against the measure.
Both were concerned that much work needed to be done before awarding a contract.
"We're putting the cart before the horse. I find it hard to understand why we wouldn't have our project manager look at this before we do it," Sullivan said.
"There are too many important decisions to be made for the people who will pay for this," Chulakes-Leetz said.
Much of council, however, didn't share those sentiments, saying the contract is an important step to determine what needs to be done.
"Don't count money as being spent when it isn't," Councilmember Marty McClain told Chulakes-Leetz. "We will go through every valve and pipe before we do it. It's the next step in the equation."
"We're doing due diligence. It's easy to audit," Councilmember Kevin McGrail said. "This needs to be voted on. Council is committed to utilities in Cape Coral."
With that, council voted to have the engineering services approved.
Ilczyszyn said the reservations of Sullivan and Chulakes-Leetz were well founded, and will have to be resolved before the project can move forward.
"I think they brought up valid points. They were worried about the time line and the apportionment methodology, spreading the payment out among the residents," Ilczyszyn said. "We have told council that those issues will be forthcoming. Council will have to resolve them."
Indeed, the price tag to the homeowner will be steep one. It will cost $18,575 to pay in full, and $24,200 if paid in installment over 20 years, at 2.5 percent interest that the city negotiated for.
Ilczyszyn said that without that interest rate, the price to the homeowner would have been $34,250, almost double the pay-in-full price.
Next, Tetra-Tech will do the necessary paperwork and begin meetings with the city on schedule and plan design, with bidding coming up next May. The shovels should come soon after, Ilczyszyn said.