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Council reconsiders vinyl seawalls

By Staff | Feb 20, 2018

The Cape Coral City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously in a special meeting to reconsider the decision it made on vinyl seawalls during last week’s meeting by reverting back to the original wording of the resolution.

The mulligan ensured city residents had an opportunity to make necessary seawall repairs following Hurricane Irma with corrugated vinyl, which could save them between 25 and 50 percent of the cost as opposed to rebuilding, depending on the kind of house they have and other conditions.

“I think the City Council had the information that it needed to make the best decision possible and they did,” said Joe Mazurkiewicz. “They didn’t have the information on the cost for the corrugated vis–vis the cost of the smooth.”

Mazurkiewicz added that the preventative maintenance of putting up a single panel along a wall that is close to failing helps homeowners save even more, a measure that is allowed by the original motion, but not in the amended one.

“We’re happy the mayor scheduled a special meeting as quickly as he did. We supported the original resolution, it gave the city three options to fix failing seawalls as a reasonable rate,” said Bill Johnson Jr., executive director of the CCCIA.

On Feb. 12, City Council voted 6-2 to pass a resolution that would allow the construction of alternative forms of seawall construction, such as vinyl.

However, some members on the council balked at the use of corrugated vinyl, which did not conform to the way the traditional walls looked. They had the resolution reworded, taking out the corrugated vinyl and leaving just the flat wall.

Councilmembers Jessica Cosden and Rick Williams said removing corrugated vinyl took away an option that could save the residents money. They voted against the amended resolution, but the resolution passed, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of contractors.

Mayor Joe Coviello decided council did not have a chance to get better informed on the issue, so he called a special meeting.

Meanwhile City Manager John Szerlag got city staff and marine contractors together to outline the advantages the alternative seawall designs would bring.

It was savings, first and foremost. Corrugated vinyl would cost between $450 and $600 per foot if repaired by land, and $550 to $700 if done on a barge.

It didn’t take long for council to understand the impact vinyl seawalls can have on Cape residents.

It was a three-step process. City Council first had to vote to reconsider, then had to revote on the resolution they ultimately passed, which did not include the corrugated vinyl, for which they had to vote against, then vote on what was ultimately the original ordinance.

“Anytime we can save taxpayers money, I’m all for it. Spending $7,000 as opposed to $30,000 is pretty clear cut to me,” said Councilmember David Stokes. “The 20 to 50 percent in savings on $50,000 is quite a bit of money.”

Szerlag said this decision will have a generational impact on how the canals will look.

“We wanted council to be aware there were other alternatives out there that would change the look. I’m glad they passed the original resolution for concrete-in-place vinyl, corrugated or flat panel because that is the most cost effective way to make repairs in some cases,” Szerlag said.