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Residents air concerns about utility expansion project, trash collection during citizens input

By Staff | Aug 27, 2019

Cape Coral officially kicked off its Utilities Expansion Project in North 1 Monday with the approval of a design team.

However, it is starting even though North 2 hasn’t been completed.

During public comment at Monday’s regular City Council meeting, a resident spoke of his road having been torn up for more than a year and a half, with the prospect of the road being fixed seemingly not in the immediate future.

City Council has made it apparent that it needs to do more to make sure things are done more efficiently and to improve the process by doing the projects in smaller sections.

“It’s taken too long and residents are being inconvenienced with the amount of time it’s taking. What we need to do is find smaller sections to do. We may have tackled more than we should have,” Mayor Joe Coviello said. “We need to break it down into grids and finish one piece before moving on.”

Residents have complained about the dirt and the streets being dug up for long periods of time, with the rainy season making things worse with flooded, muddy conditions.

Coviello also mentioned that there have been personnel and subcontractor issues associated with the project that have slowed things down and that they will be dealt with moving forward.

“We have to make sure in the future these projects go a lot faster and make sure we have subcontractors in place that will carry out the project quickly and efficiently,” Coviello said. “I’m not sure that’s happening at this time.”

Coviello said the UEP is among the most ambitious and expensive water quality projects in the country that will cost the city more than $400 million. The UEP will eliminate septic tanks for sewers to improve water quality.

There was also public input on the collection of trash. Waste Pro, the city’s contracted trash collector, has failed to pick up certain types of trash, namely bulk, like mattresses, and construction waste such as drywall, and old appliances that end up staying on the curb for weeks sometimes, creating an eyesore.

Coviello said this has been an issue for a while, and although improvements have been made, there is already room to make it better. The problem could be that it’s beyond Waste Pro’s jurisdiction. It could be the city’s issue.

“The problem is bulk pickup, especially those who have tenants. When those tenants move out, they’re tracking that stuff out in the street and some is not in compliance with what Waste Pro will pick up,” Coviello said. “I believe we can come up with an ordinance to address property owners putting bulk trash out and hold people accountable.”

A new ordinance could result in the owner or landlord being fined if the waste isn’t gone within a few days. A new contract is forthcoming for Waste Pro and issues such as this could be part of any new agreement.