CCP works on packed agenda at monthly meeting
The Captiva Community Panel heard back from county officials on two ongoing issues, set a date for the wastewater town hall for the community and provided direction to the panel’s Sea Level Rise Committee during its recent meeting.
On Dec. 10, Panel President David Mintz relayed to the others what transpired when he and Administrator Ken Gooderham recently met with Lee County officials and discussed the possible creation of an island MSTU to fund the removal of green iguanas and other invasive species.
The county provided them with a draft letter of what would be mailed out to property owners on Captiva. The petitions would have to be returned – signed and notarized – by a tentative date of April 1 as a “vote” in favor of a MSTU. To pass, 50 percent plus one of the petitions must be returned.
Mintz reported that the island has about 1,150 property owners.
“Someone who doesn’t vote counts as a no,” he said of the unreturned petitions.
“We’re going to need a bit of an organizing drive,” Mintz added of getting the support.
He continued that the county had previously estimated the annual cost for iguana removal services would be $34,678 – funded through the MSTU – which includes processing and administrative costs and reimbursing the county over a five-year period for this current first year of services it covered.
“This time, they had a different millage and a different total number,” he said of the meeting.
The county estimated the annual cost at $50,925. Mintz explained that it had added $15,000 into the first year’s cost so reserve funds could be built up in case the fee for services increased over time. If the costs did not increase and the reserves were not needed, the millage rate could be lowered each year.
He added that the reserves cushion is not mandatory.
“They’re basically making this as a suggestion,” Mintz said.
During the following discussion, Mintz and Gooderham answered questions from the panel and audience. They reported that the MSTU would have a millage rate cap and that the county commission would vote on the millage rate annually based on feedback from a local group, such as the panel.
Mintz calculated the proposed costs to an average taxable property of $1.266 million as about $32 annually at the $34,000 yearly cost for service and $47 annually at the $50,000 yearly cost for service.
He also reiterated that the county has made it clear it will not pay for the services.
“They didn’t do it on Boca Grande, and they’re not doing it here. It’ll open too many doors for the county with too many people having the same request,” Mintz said. “The only way we can do it, if we believe we need to do it, is through this MSTU.”
After further discussion, the panel voted unanimously to begin the process of creating the proposed MSTU at the $50,000 mark to provide for some wiggle room – or future funds to deal with bunnies or other invasive species – to form an organizing-petition committee and to try for the April deadline.
BLIND PASS BRIDGE FISHING
Also at the meeting, Mintz reported that the county offered a proposal for the panel to consider regarding fishing off of the Blind Pass Bridge, which the panel agreed to work toward prohibiting due to a mix of issues – littering, fishermen’s equipment, chairs and such taking up space on the walkway which then forces pedestrians and bicyclists to travel instead in the roadway, and other concerns.
He continued that the county suggested installing poles between the edge of the traffic lanes and existing concrete barrier, essentially designating that area for pedestrian-bike traffic and allowing the fishermen to keep using the existing walkway between the barrier and bridge’s edge to fish off of.
“So there would be a separate walkway for pedestrians,” Mintz said, adding that it would be about four-feet wide. “The idea is pedestrians wouldn’t be walking where the fishermen are.”
He added that the county proposed the idea as a solution to accommodate both parties.
During discussion, several on the panel viewed the proposal as favoring the fishermen.
“The fishermen are the invasive species here by getting into the walkway,” Secretary Mike Mullins said, noting that a vehicle could easily lose control, crash through the poles and injury someone.
“This is worst than what exists today,” he added. “They don’t understand the problem.”
Others on the panel suggested removing the existing concrete barrier and installing a new modern removable concrete barrier along the edge of the traffic lanes to basically make the path wider. Because the new barrier would be removable, the county could test out the new design for a period of time.
Another idea floated was replacing the county’s proposed poles with a removable concrete barrier, creating two paths – one for fishermen, one for pedestrians – but both protected by concrete.
Also, restricting fishing to one side of the bridge was raised again as an option.
After additional discussion, Mintz reported that he would go back to the county with two options for the panel: fishing off only the bridge’s Gulf-side, or a removable concrete barrier instead of poles.
Also during the meeting, Panel Member and Wastewater Committee Chair Jay Brown outlined next steps on the subject of the island’s wastewater and wastewater alternatives. He explained that based on the TKW study and additional consultant project, the panel appears to have two paths going forward.
Brown reported that Captiva can do nothing immediately and deal with its future septic issues later as part of addressing sea-level rise, put in place a regulatory regime for the existing septics and create a plan to address stormwater runoff, or pursue a central sewer system now in collaboration with Sanibel.
He noted that, in his opinion, joining Sanibel would be better than joining the FGUA.
The panel discussed last month’s presentation by the Florida Governmental Utility Authority, which outlined what would be entailed in expanding its operations to outside of the South Seas Island Resort. The estimated $9 million cost of the project and too many “unanswered questions” were pointed out.
The panel will hold its Captiva Wastewater Public Meeting on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Captiva Civic Center. Consultant David Tomasko will provide a review of his study findings on health and environmental risks associated with septic systems; Brown will follow with a discussion of the island’s wastewater alternatives. TKW’s Doug Eckmann will be present to answer questions about its study.
Public comment will be welcomed and encouraged.
SEA LEVEL RISE COMMITTEE
Also at the meeting, Seal Level Rise Committee Chair Linda Laird provided the panel with a presentation on the group’s work to-date, in order to get approval and direction moving forward.
She explained that the committee solicited two proposals from two sea-level rise experts.
“We, personally, prefer the (Dr. Cheryl) Hapke proposal,” Laird said.
She explained that Hapke recently founded her firm, Coastal Science Solutions, so she is willing to do the work and research pro bono in an effort to create a customer reference and decision support tool.
“She will be offering technical and scientific leadership for vulnerability assessments, identification and assessment of adaption alternatives,” Laird said.
The approach will entail establishing context, doing a vulnerability assessment, identifying adaption strategies and evaluating adaption strategy outcomes, all which Hapke will work at on some level at the same time. It is followed by implementation and monitoring, presently not included as the pro bono.
Laird added that Hapke’s full report could be presented to the panel in three to six months.
The panel directed the committee to proceed with Hapke’s proposal.
IN OTHER NEWS
– The panel voted to elect nominee Tony Lapi to the seat held by Panel Member Bob Walter.
He will take up the position as of Jan. 1.
– The panel completed its discussion on the draft amendments to the Captiva Code.
During the meeting, it reviewed the earlier proposed changes to dune vegetation protection, tree requirements, dark skies, parking on the island in relation to the chapel church and residential signs.
Mintz will begin work on a summary of the changes, which will be sent to property owners.
– Gooderham provided the panel with a draft budget to review for later discussion.