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Cape to consider Spreader pact

By Staff | Sep 11, 2010

Cape Coral City Council will finally vote on the North Spreader Ecosystem Management Agreement on Monday, but one stakeholder spokesman said the vote will mean little because a majority vote among stakeholders has already been decided.
Phil Buchanan of Pine Island said 11 of the 20 participating groups and organizations have voted to replace the barrier.
Buchanan said the city “dug their heels in” during the NSEMA process, and wouldn’t agree to a reasonable timeline for any of the Net Ecosystem Benefit projects, or bringing sewers to the North Cape.
“It would have been 2050 before sewers would go into that area,” Buchanan said. “The year 2050 is an agreement not to do something.”
City Engineer Oliver Clarke, who worked on the NSEMA along with city Councilmember Pete Brandt, said the stakeholders originally got behind several NEB projects, but as the process went along the divide between the stakeholders only grew.
Clarke said sewers in that section of the Cape is not a reality right now, citing sparse development and the likelihood that the project couldn’t even have been bonded.
He said the stakeholders have a “nice packet of projects” that will work as an alternative to replacing the barrier already funded, adding that no evidence exists to prove the barrier will work.
“There have been no qualified scientific of engineering reports that indicate the barrier will accomplish much of anything,” Clarke said.
Brandt, city liaison on the project, said he hoped stakeholders would vote based on fact, not “emotion or political expedience.”
He hopes that city council will unanimously not support putting the barrier back in.
“I am adamantly in favor of going forward with this project, so is our staff, and so is the county’s staff,” Brandt said.
Lee County is set to vote on the agreement on Tuesday, and Charlotte County Commissioners are set to vote Sept. 21.
The entire agreement process has taken more than two years and, according to Buchanan, has gotten nowhere.
He said stakeholders are exactly where they were when the entire process began.
While not entirely satisfied, Buchanan said the result is better then nothing.
“It’s not the best possible end, but it’s not a real bad end, either,” he said. “It’s not the best solution, but reasonable under the time frame.”