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Panel votes to proceed with Captiva Drive

By Staff | Mar 19, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI The Florida Economic Council Executive Director Jessica Pinsky and Chairman Richard Johnson speak about the organization's mission, legislative priorities and more at the Captiva Community Panel meeting on March 12.

The Captiva Community Panel recently approved funds to conduct the design work for the Captiva Drive improvement project, as well as for a staffer to assist its new Sea Level Rise Committee.

At its March 12 meeting, the panel voted unanimously to designate up to $43,000 for Johnson Engineering to design and engineer the blueprint for changes to the S curve. The topic was brought up during last month’s meeting, but a decision on the plan was tabled until the following meeting.

Prior to the vote, President David Mintz explained that he still intended to meet with Lee County officials about covering some of the costs. He also reported that he had an idea on how the panel may be able to raise funds through the community, but did not want to divulge any details at the time.

“I would like to have the authority to retain Johnson Engineering,” Mintz said.

He added that he did not want to delay the project any further.

Panel Member Rene Miville questioned Johnson Engineering’s quote for the work, noting that he thought he knew of another firm the panel might be able to use and the work might cost less.

As part of the vote, Mintz agreed to collaborate with Miville and look at the second firm.

Also during the meeting, Mintz reported that the Sea Level Rise Committee had been meeting and gathering information to support its goals. It is focused on identifying the island’s vulnerabilities to sea level rise and the vulnerabilities of its assets, creating a plan for how to deal with the vulnerabilities, and outlining how to implement a resiliency plan against the impact of sea level rise.

The committee is also working with Florida Gulf Coast University on its Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability Due to Sea-level Rise and Storminess on Sanibel study, which covers Captiva as well.

Residents Linda Laird and Larry Baras are chairing the committee.

At a prior meeting, Mintz had floated the idea of hiring Kate Gooderham, who has experience in the industry, to assist and direct the volunteer-comprised group since no one from the panel is on it. At last week’s meeting, he shared her proposed contract, which outlined her duties and fee of $150 per hour.

“I really think it’s important to get this committee going in the right direction,” Mintz said.

After some discussion among the panel about the hourly rate and if Gooderham would accept the position for a flat fee, it voted to approve the contract with a cap of $5,000 to see how it goes.

At the February meeting, the panel invited two wildlife control companies to come and answer questions about iguana control. Panel Member Dave Jensen, who has been handling the issue, was directed to work with the companies to put together a trial-run proposal for service for Captiva.

Alfredo Fermin, with AAA Wildlife Trapping and Removal Services – who was again on hand for last week’s meeting – proposed a five-week pilot program for $5,000 to see if the island has a problem.

During the panel’s discussion, Fermin answered questions about how he accesses private properties, like residential homes, to trap and catch iguanas. He explained that on Marco Island, which he services, the municipality contacted homeowners and asked permission and he has the list of approved homes.

Jensen noted that it sounded like the panel would first have to reach out to homeowners.

The panel agreed to look further into how to sign up homes for a pilot program.

One resident in attendance pointed out that iguanas can destroy vegetation.

“I want to thank the panel for exploring this and finding some options,” she said, adding that she supports putting a pilot program in place, despite not seeing any iguanas on her own property.

“We need to know how much of a problem it is,” she said. “I think we need to get in front of this.”

IN OTHER NEWS

– Panel Member and Wastewater Committee Chair Jay Brown reported that David Tomasko, with Environmental Science Associates, is preparing to begin the project aimed at gathering supplemental information to go along with the TKW study on wastewater alternatives for Captiva.

– Representatives from The Florida Economic Council – Executive Director Jessica Pinsky and Chairman Richard Johnson – spoke about the organization’s mission, legislative priorities and more.

– The panel discussed pesticides and rat poison in relation to code language.