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CCP elects officers, receives MSTU and SLR updates

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Jan 15, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED The Captiva Community Panel's Sea Level Rise Committee plans to examine possible adaptions to implementation in areas of the island to circumvent the effect of sea level rise, such as living shorelines, restorations or improvements, and seawalls. Originally four areas, the committee added a fifth area after discussion by the panel at its meeting.

During its recent meeting, the Captiva Community Panel elected its officers for the year, as well as heard updates on the iguana control MSTU petitions and from the Sea Level Rise Committee.

On Jan. 12, the panel unanimously voted for Jay Brown to serve as president for 2021.

Prior to vote, he reported that he had held the position once before.

“I’ll be happy to take it on again,” Brown said.

Following the vote for president, the panel unanimously elected Antje Baumgarten to serve as vice president, Mike Lanigan to serve as secretary and Tony Lapi to serve as treasurer alongside him.

Also at the meeting, Administrator Ken Gooderham gave an update on the petitions being collected in order to form a MSTU — through Lee County — to pay for iguana control services for the island.

“We’ve received about 200 petitions total,” he said.

In order to create the MSTU, formal petitions were sent to every property owner who would be assessed as part of the new taxing unit. Fifty percent plus one of the total petitions sent must be signed and returned — “votes” in favor of the MSTU — for the county to proceed on forming the unit.

“We need 600 total to make this unit work,” Gooderham said of the threshold.

He noted that about 40 of the 200 have some kind of a problem, like an incorrect strap number, wrong signature or owner’s name not listed properly, things the county attorney may have a problem with.

“So, we’ll be reaching back out to those owners,” Gooderham said, adding that he intends to discuss these issues with county staff. “I think we should have more latitude to make some corrections.”

He reported that another mailing about the MSTU will soon go out to property owners.

The petitions need to be in the county’s hands by April 1. Panel staff are hoping to collect all of the signed petitions by mid-March in order to package them together for presentation to the county.

Also during the meeting, Panel Member and Sea Level Rise Committee Chair Linda Laird gave presentations on the ongoing work with consultant Dr. Cheryl Hapke, with Integral Consulting. One presentation talked of adaptation planning alternatives, with a second on water level monitoring.

Laird reported that as part of its island-wide vulnerability assessment, the committee identified the effects of 1 foot (2030 to 2060) and 2 feet (2050 to 2090) of sea level rise. She noted that vulnerability is “more extensive” with 2 feet in areas like Plantation Road, the Village and east of Captiva Drive.

“So what we did was select four areas that seem to be geomorphologically similar,” Laird said.

She outlined them as: South Seas Plantation Road, including the FGUA water treatment plant and Marina Village; Marina Village to the point or near the Captiva Hide-A-Way; the point to The Green Flash; and along the Roosevelt Channel from around the Captiva Island Yacht Club to Blind Pass.

The consultant will look at possible adaptions and strategies for implementation in those areas.

“The likely alternatives are living shorelines, restorations or improvements, fill, seawalls, and in the one place raising the road,” Laird said. “They’re going to be modeling this to determine how effective they expect it to be.”

She raised one concern for the panel. Laird explained that Hapke’s firm has been working with the committee pro bono and that the committee was unsuccessful in getting some grants it had hoped for. It has since asked the firm for a proposal with deliverables and costs for next six months to one year.

“We will get that and bring it back to the panel to see if and how it could be funded,” she said.

In the discussion following the presentation, Lanigan pointed out the area from where the Roosevelt Channel meets Blind Pass on down to the Blind Pass Bridge. He noted that it also is underwater with 2 feet of sea level rise, but is not covered by the four areas. He questioned if it also should be included.

Laird said she would have the consultant add it as a fifth area.

For her second presentation, Laird explained that there is a new project going on in the Carolinas involving real-time, water level monitoring that uses sensors, an Internet cloud platform, AI algorithms, NOAA data and more to predict water levels days out, which can be accessed via the Web or app.

“I think the panel may want to consider getting involved. We could monitor and measure the water levels in Captiva on a real-time basis,” she said. “I think it would help the committee tremendously to have real data that we can look at.”

As one example, Laird cited that they could have known the surge during Tropical Storm Eta.

“It’s going to give us this real-time and projected water levels, which should be valuable for boaters as well as long-term planning,” she said, pointing out that the data could also be of use to the public.

Laird questioned whether the panel should purchase and install a few of the sensors. Following some discussion, it decided to research it more, possibly with the Captiva Erosion Prevention District.

IN OTHER NEWS

– David Mintz, who served as panel president before terming out at the end of 2020, reported that he met with newly-seated Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane on Dec. 14 on behalf of the CCP.

“In effect, we discussed the panel’s priorities,” he said.

He outlined their topics of discussion as:

— Needing up to $100,000 for two engineering studies to consider central sewer

— Seeking approval for its proposed Captiva Code and ordinance changes

— Needing funding to complete the Captiva Drive sidewalk

— Requesting one side of the Blind Pass Bridge be closed to fishing

— Seeking the creation of a slow speed manatee zone for the Roosevelt Channel

— Needing future county funding for community planning

Mintz also reported that Ruane was receptive to attending a panel meeting.

“I think I can say with a great deal of confidence that Chairman Ruane is now completely and well aware of what the panel’s work has been and what our priorities are and what we’ve been doing,” he said. “It seems like he’s going to be more than willing to help us to try to meet our priorities.”

The panel responded positively to the news.

“I think we’re fortunate that he’s chair of the Lee County board of commissioners,” Brown said. “I think we’ve established a good relationship with him. I think that’s a very positive development for us.”

– Baumgarten, chair of the Golf Cart Safety Committee, reported that a Lee County Department of Transportation representative is scheduled to visit the island and examine the Golf Cart Zone.

“So we are making a little bit of progress,” she said, in terms of improved signage and safety.

Lapi suggested that the non-working flashing sign at the curve be pointed out.

“To me that’s a great deterrent for getting people to slow down as they approach that golf cart area and it’s been out of service for, I don’t know, over a year I bet,” he said. “I’d love to see that speed thing come up to tell you what speed you’re doing. I think it’s a good safety issue, and I think it would help.”

– LCEC Key Account Executive Tricia Dorn spoke at the meeting about outages and answered questions. Islanders having weekly blips in service should contact 239-656-2300 or 800-599-2356.

– Sandy Stilwell, owner of RC Otter’s of Captiva LLC, also spoke during the meeting.

She explained that she is aiming to upgrade her beer and wine license at RC Otter’s Island Eats, and possibly the Sunshine Seafood Cafe and Wine Bar, to a full liquor license. She has brought on a team to assist with the process, but first wanted to see if the panel had any objections before they proceeded.

“It wouldn’t be changing the operation in any way at all,” Stilwell said.

The panel had no objections to the license upgrade.

– The panel agreed with forming a Government Affairs Committee and having Mintz chair it.

Mintz followed up by suggesting that Lapi and Panel Members Rene Miville and Mike Mullins take part in the committee, which they agreed to. Stilwell also was asked to participate and she agreed.

– Panel Member and Development Committee Chair Ann Brady reported that the first month of the panel’s membership drive is under its belt and the committee was able to raise $40,140 in total.

“We had $40,000 in the budget, so I think that’s pretty great,” she said.

Brady noted that about 25 percent were new donors.

“So that’s great — reaching out to new people,” she said.