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Waterways Estates Plant diversion construction on track

By Staff | Oct 12, 2011

An update was given to Lee County Commissioners at the recent Management and Planning meeting on the status of the Waterways Estates Wastewater Treatment Plant decommission plan by Lee County Utilities.

The project is a two-phase operation. First, to divert wastewater flows from the Waterway Estates Treatment Plant on Ilet Drive to the Del Prado Wastewater Treatment Facility. It requires the installation of new sewage pipes along the diversion route, with construction in front of the homes and businesses. Once that is complete, the plant will be decommissioned in Phase two.

The streets affected will be Inlet Drive, Orange Grove Boulevard and Pine Island Road from Barrett Road to just west of Evalena Lane.

“They (construction workers) are on Inlet Drive right now, and Orange Grove Boulevard is slated to begin in October” said Lee County Utilities spokesperson Patty DiPiero.

Potholes may result from the construction in general as workers will be locating other utility lines during the process.

“We’re asking that the community please adhere to all signage and barriers within the construction zone.”

Several residents said they are concerned that they may experience water outages in the process. “There will be no water outages,” she said.

Others were concerned about knowing exactly when their area will be affected.

“They will be notified by the construction company with a door hanger,” DiPiero said.

A dedicated website – lcuimprovements.info – has been set up by the utility to give more detail on the project, including timeline information and other frequently asked questions. It also includes information and emergency phone numbers for both day and night.

One local official that is happy this process is now under way is Gregg Makepeace, president of the North Fort Myers Civic Associa-tion.

“I’ve always been concerned about possible pollution to the Caloosahatchee River from the plant,” he said.

The property that contains the plant was purchased by the county several years ago and also has docks that many were hoping to be open to the general public. County staff has cautioned against that, according to the report presented by Utilities Director Pam Keyes.

“The property is currently zoned for Commercial Planned Develop-ment, which does not allow public access for recreational use,” she said in her report. “The property would need to be rezoned to include Park activities. This process would require approximately six months for a cost of $5,000. County Lands cautions against rezoning the property to Parks as it could significantly decease the property value for redevelopment.”

There could also be legal liability issues, she noted.

But the issue of public use may not be over. Commissioner Frank Mann asked for more discussion and information on public access in the future.