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Council to discuss restarting UEP

By Staff | Jan 17, 2012

Cape Coral City Council will have preliminary discussions today about restarting the utilities expansion project.

The discussions are aimed at building an outline for moving forward, giving city staff direction so it can begin developing a plan for the stalled city-wide utilities project.

Councilmember John Carioscia said the talks are going to be informational, in part, but he also hopes council will start to alleviate some of the fears associated with moving the UEP forward.

Carioscia requested the discussion be placed on the agenda, according to city documentation.

“Once we get informed, we can make some decisions,” he said. “We have to be sure and walk slowly on this, even though it may seem like we’re moving fast right now.”

Members of city staff are scheduled to make a presentation to council members during their Committee of the Whole meeting in council chambers at City Hall.

Staff declined comment on the presentation, but associated documentation shows the discussion will lean toward addressing the assessment methodology, delivery and construction management methods, financing options and the selection process.

Council will likely debate whether construction management can be done in house, through a procurement process, or a combination of both.

“I want to discuss if any of our city workers can be utilized and how much money it can save us,” Carioscia added.

Councilmember Kevin McGrail doesn’t expect the conversation to be too far reaching, but does hope council members walk away with of sense of how the city got to this point and what the options could be moving forward.

McGrail thinks council should focus on a single “alpha area,” one that’s small enough to get their collective minds around, that could also provide the city an environmental benefit.

Area 58, or the area that extends from a half mile north of Pine Island Road through the North Spreader and Bone Fish canals, could mark the perfect start point for the UEP’s return, McGrail said.

He’s already received support from homeowners in that area, he said, adding that local and state agencies would see the city is serious about protecting the water table. The North Spreader Canal, the blown out barrier and the associated political and environmental fall-out have caused lawmakers to butt heads for years.

Lee County is in the process of bringing litigation against the city to replace the boat lift/barrier in the spreader.

“This would prove to the county commissioners and to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that we’re serious about installing sewers along the western edge of our city,” McGrail said.

McGrail said he will broach the topic of Area 58 today, but expects the meeting to focus more on the larger picture, instead of getting bogged too heavily in the project’s details.

That will likely come later, he said.

“This is such a broad brush, I don’t know if we’ll make a lot of headway … I look at tomorrow as being a big overview,” he said.

The Committee of the Whole will meet today at 5 p.m. in city council chambers.