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Council picks transmission line route downtown

By Staff | Oct 20, 2009

The Cape Coral City Council decided Monday night to install an overhead transmission line in the Community Redevelopment Agency district, bringing a decade-long argument to a close.
The new line, which will start on Everest Parkway and run south on portions of Del Prado Boulevard, will culminate along the southside of Southeast 46th Lane to the substation in the CRA.
City council also protected itself with an indemnification agreement with the Lee County Electric Cooperative, which will defer all potential litigation onto the shoulders of the utility company.
Now that the route is selected, LCEC officials said they will submit their permits for construction this week. They anticipate the project will be completed in 16 months.
Spokeswoman Karen Ryan said LCEC has never struck an indemnification agreement prior to Monday night’s decision.
“We’ve never had one … but it helps to ease the mind of the council,” she said.
LCEC and CRA board members have long battled over the transmission lines, and whether they should be installed above or below ground.
The most recent point of contention came over a loose agreement struck in April that allowed the city council 18 months to gather further information before making a decision.
Only six months into that agreement, CRA executive director John Jacobsen questioned whether the indemnification agreement was strong enough to protect the city.
“The indemnification is not complete,” he said.
City attorney Dolores Menendez said that while the indemnification is indeed “weak,” it is better than having no agreement at all.
While only time will tell if property owners in the CRA will file suit against LCEC, Ryan said they will simply have to wait and see.
“We don’t anticipate that anyone is going to sue,” she said.
City council was nearly split on the vote, which passed 3-4 with Mayor Jim Burch and Councilmembers Pete Brandt and Dolores Bertolini dissenting.
While some of the council felt more information was needed and more work should be done on the indemnification agreement, the majority felt it was time to move on.
“I believe its been spinning for as long as it can spin,” Councilmember Gloria Tate said. “We need to move forward.”