CAPTIVA COMMUNITY PANEL
May 8, 2007
Panel Members in Attendance: Ron Gibson, Mike Mullins, Dave Jensen, Gordon Hullar, Mike Kelly, Nathalie Pyle, Sandy Stilwell, Harry Silverglide
1. The meeting convened at 9:05 a.m. in separate votes, the panel approved the minutes from April 10, 2007 (motion by Kelly, Mullins second) and the emergency meeting on April 18, 2007 (motion by Kelly, Mullins second) concerning the safety shoulder survey.
2. Safety Shoulder: Jensen and Ken Gooderham provided a brief update on the survey: It was sent by April 30 and cards were due back by June 1; Gooderham was checking on how to deal with any postage-due cards due to the May 14 postage rate change. In total 1,410 survey packages were sent -- 280 active voters and 1,330 property owners. Jensen will pick up the cards and returns on June 1 and asked for volunteers to help count. Pyle, Stilwell, Jensen and Kelsey Angstadt agreed to meet to decide how to handle a count, and others could contact one of them for information. Survey results would be reported at the next CCP meeting June 12 and then sent to Randy Cerchie with Lee County DOT.
Hullar asked if the panel would convey the survey decisions and its recommendation to DOT then. Mullins said the group decided to send two sets of cards at the emergency meeting, but that how they would be handled was to be decided today: He made a motion to use results from both databases – voters and owners – as to the results on the survey questions, not to cull duplicate names (Gibson second). Approval was unanimous.
Mullins made another motions, that the survey result will be the recommendation of the panel. The majority opinion will govern the panel recommendation, to be consistent with the community and not add a subjective judgment on top of the data sets. (Gibson second). Kelly said it may depend on the number of people who respond, we should look at percentage of response. Stilwell said such an approach could allow the minority to rule the majority if the returns are low. Gibson said the panel can qualify the numbers in its report, but that this is the problem with voting in general. Kelly reminds that this was a poll, not a vote; its statistical significance should be valid. This motion would tie our hands before we see the numbers coming back. Gibson said that the panel can then not give an opinion, withhold judgment and simply report results.
Mullins said that people have an opportunity to speak through their response. If they chose not to, then they have opted to let those who respond speak for them. Silverglide said that we’ve already voted in the survey, he didn’t feel the need to reinforce that vote with a panel opinion. Pass the results on to DOT. Mullins read from the panel bylaws, Article 8: “The Panel shall develop and approve a final report on the issue to be submitted to Lee County or the appropriate governing authorities based upon the results of the survey. The Panel shall submit the detailed survey report and all relevant survey data along with their final recommendations. To the extent possible, the desires of the property owners by region will be weighted in the report the Panel makes to Lee County. Whenever appropriate, the survey may obtain and identify results by regions within Captiva, such as Gold Coast, the Village, etc. Resulting recommendations may be specific to a discreet area where the matter under consideration does not require an all island action.”
Bill Fenniman said the survey card was detailed as to region, so the panel can qualify the returns by region. Hullar said in the case of a low turnout, a small advocacy group could influence the survey. Pyle said the intent of the motion was fair, but we need to see the results and then formulate a recommendation at next meeting. Kelly said the idea was not to segregate the island in an all-island situation, but segment responses in issues when it was meaningful. The shoulder is not meaningful in segments, so segmented results were not significant. This is an all-island issue.
Doris Holzheimer said that at the bylaws committee meeting, they were trying to avoid recommendations that did not specifically address what the poll would be. They wanted to include results, but also allow background to be included for context and an explanation of process. They did not look at any particular issue, but in general – to represent community process and discussion, and provide context to the results. Mullins said the objective was to try to be fair, to keep the results open and honest and avoid spin in reporting results. The intent was not to allow this body to supersede the community on an issue – put a percentage on it. Mike Boris said the panel would be hard pressed to recommend otherwise if the decision of the community is clear. Pyle said this discussion was too hypothetical to allow a motion to tie our hands. Mullins reiterated the motion, and reiterated that the bylaws do not require recommendation. He said he was willing to withdraw motion (Gibson concurred) and it was withdrawn.
3. Bylaws: Mullins noted that there were some typos in the version of the bylaws approved by the panel at the April 10 meeting. He was preparing a “glitch” memo detailing those, and will send out a copy to the panel to review and approve. Pyle said he should just fix them. Discussion ensued and the panel expressed a consensus to allow Mullins to simply correct typos and submit a revised version for use. Mullins noted that the panel had received a request from the Captiva Community Association (CCA) concerning the structure of the panel, and asked that is be handled as new business at the end of the meeting.
Mike Boris noted that a nominating committee had been formed, to be chaired by Dick Pyle with Mullins and Boris. They have met to review the bylaws and form nominations. Stilwell had been asked to serve as treasurer. She requested that a complete set of QuickBooks for the panel account needed to be provided to her, and asked for a volunteer to audit information from the past. She asked that the nomination be tabled for another month until those issues could be resolved. Mullins said the nominating committee had asked Stilwell to serve, but she wants to know what she’s getting into. He promised to work with Stilwell and Gooderham on the transition, and that it needs to be set up properly and he will to help you get the appropriate support. Would she accept the position, and have the panel vote to validate and confirm appointment? The CCP has never had a treasurer before, as the CPOA was treasurer for all.
Hullar suggested the panel hire a volunteer to enter data. Gibson said why not start from today? Stilwell said they needed to enter the past data and set up the books properly. Kelly asked why reconstruct the CPOA books, but have a starting point from now? We should figure out a way to start with a fresh slate, as going back to 2001 is useless to me. Hullar asked if there were documented records that can be separated from CPOA. Gooderham said there were, but that a variety of accounts had been kept under the same master account and that there was no simple way to segregate the CCP account and convert it into a new QuickBooks account, that he had tried to upload the Excel files with little success to this point. Jensen asked whether Hullar knew an accountant who could make a recommendation on how to proceed. Gooderham offered to contact the accountant they work with for assistance on the conversion. Mullins said that needed to be done very cleanly to create a QuickBooks account that could generate the reports we need to see. He asked Stilwell to accept the position with the caveat that you’ll need help.
Silverglide asked how the panel would handle fund-raising, since things should be collected through the CPOA if it wins its 501c3 status. The majority of the money will still need to go through CPOA. Mullins said they could establish a separate account that would be a complete clean slate. Gooderham said such an account now exists as far as he knows, it’s getting a unique set of records for panel use that was the issue. Jensen said the panel should see what an accountant recommends. Pyle said that while there are issues to be resolved, the point now is to give the treasurer the necessary comfort level. Mullins moved to accept the recommendation of the nominating committee and appoint Stilwell treasurer (Kelly second). Approval was unanimous.
4. Hurricane Committee: Holzheimer thanked all those who attended the April 11 hurricane meeting, and handed out a committee update. She said the Structural Safety Inspectors team was accepting volunteers for new positions, and will arrange training for new people when there are enough to do so. She explained the requirements; Silverglide noted that volunteers needed a release from their physician. He said the recent SSI drill very successful, and that the Captiva Fire District a great help. Holzheimer mentioned the letter to owners/renters concerning access to property, that they had tried to distribute it as best as possible and that it was also available on the Web site, www.mycaptiva.info. She explained the process to get the letter to the fire district, where it would be kept on file. There were copies at library with other hurricane prep materials. There was a preparedness list on the web site, updates will come from Beth Oden.
Oden said she will provide updates as they are offered from officials once a storm is threatening, and the Web site will serve as an archive for photos as well. Holzheimer said Captivans could send photos to Oden, and that they were looking for some “before” photos as well as “after” ones. A mock drill was to come; a mainland meeting center had not been identified yet. Watch the Web site, it will serve as the information point after a major storm. The committee was looking for sponsors for a community disaster service database, a full list of information for newcomers to help them find out disaster information.
She said the committee had applied to have Captive deemed a “Storm Ready Community.” There were a number of things we have to do to meet that, but Captiva would be the first barrier island to get that designation – which is a big deal. We’d have to have a lot of things ready to win that. She urged islanders to check our Web site, will offer links. Also looking for links to our site, ww.MyCaptiva.info. She said the committee will be presenting at governor’s hurricane conference in Fort Lauderdale, a team is going to get a lot of good ideas to bring back here.
5. Utilities: Mullins offered to provide an update, as committee chair Rene Miville was unable to attend this meeting. He noted that the panel had received a copy of a proposed CCA survey on underground utilities May 7. Hullar said that we don’t have the quality information required to present an accurate picture to allow people to make an intelligent response. He hoped the CCA will not send out the survey. He, too, had been upset by the time it’s taken to get this moving, and agreed the panel needed to find a way to speed it up. But he was upset by a survey that could mess up information in a way that is not valid. Mullins said members of the CCA had held a “private” meeting with LCEC and Lee County, that he had wanted to attend but was not allowed to participate. Gooderham noted that the panel had received updates from LCEC and Embarq as to potential participation or revised costs for the projects.
Mullins said the county has asked us to be patient with MSTU director Libby Walker, that this was a new kind of project for that office to undertake and there would be some refinements that would need to be done along the way. He said Miville had retained an attorney and a project manager to help with some of the uncertainties encountered so far. He hoped to do a utilities survey along the line of what was done with the safety shoulder – establish a committee, research and fine-tune the scope and details, make some public presentations and have information online. There was a discussion of a variety of financial aspects pertaining to long-term borrowing as they came into play on a project such as this.
Mullins felt study did not support the proposed $24 million project cost cited by the CCA, and he felt they needed to verify data before going out with a survey. He said the CCA work was done in a vacuum, and LCEC and the county provided information but no ownership or direction. He hoped the panel and the CCA could find a way to join forces to find out the real answers; this would be an opportunity to find out what is the correct thing to do and do it in with the proper analysis. He said that FPL is interested in subsidizing undergrounding in those areas it serves, as they have recognized the value of hardening the electrical infrastructure. LCEC has no current plans to do that. (Discussion ensued as to why FPL has embraced this approach, why LCEC will not offer such a subsidy.) Mullins said it all comes down to the numbers. The CCA survey makes assumptions on rates, and has to break new ground without much context or background. He cautioned that these are not a black & white issues.
Fenniman (CCA president) said this survey was not a CCA-initiated issue, but came from a group of people who were dissatisfied with the panel’s reports. He described the process the CCA undertook, and noted that the Island Water Association main replacement project is being held up by underground utilities. He said the survey letter had been reviewed by LCEC and the county, and noted errors in the CCP information handed out at this meeting. Hullar said the CCA survey as presented was not neutral. Mullins said the CCA did not make any effort to work with the people who have been working on this for a number of years. He asked what was the pressing deadline that required the CCA to move forward on this. Fenniman (who sits on the IWA board) said the other utilities want to know if this project has a future, that right-of-way issues (particularly in the Tween Waters stretch) had impacted the IWA decisions not to replace the main there. Mullins said the IWA had said the Tween Waters main had 25 years of life, and asked if that was a lie.
Silverglide said he felt the survey had been driven by the IWA, that it was concerned about both the utilities and the safety shoulder. What the CCA was really asking was “Would you vote to support a new tax?” – making this a tax survey, not a utilities survey. Bob Brace said if people are not told what the cost will be and are not give total clarity on advantages and disadvantages of the project, they can’t give an informed response. Mullins said there was not sufficient information to go to a survey at this point. He made a motion to ask the CCA not to send the survey at this point in time, but to sit down and share information to form a joint group with the CCP on this issue. Silverglide said the island should push the state to help with funding, and such a group should work to clean up funding issue. Fenniman reiterated the motivation behind the CCA survey, and that it was time to get information before Captivans. Silverglide seconded the motion on the floor.
Hullar said the quality of the project’s scope determines the estimate and its validity. He believed they were not at the point of being able to present a valid cost. Pyle said this was an opportunity for the two organizations on Captiva to work together. She urged both to commit to working together. Kelly noted that the CCA can do what they want to – that’s their business. He said the panel had consciously tried not to confuse the safety shoulder issue with a second issue by not including a utilities survey in with it, and that the CCA would be coming right on top of the shoulder survey. The panel then vote unanimously to approve the motion.
Gooderham noted the error in the “Project Update” handouts as being from an older version of the file, and promised to correct it in future versions. He discussed the ongoing concern with some of the numbers being provided for this project, particularly concerning long-term financing and easement costs. He noted that he had been working with the county on ways to apportion assessments for the project to reflect the benefits various property owners would receive, particularly looking at an overall assessment to cover the cost of the main feeder serving the island (which would be paid by all as a recognition of hopefully improved service) with a second assessment for those who would get the additional benefit of having lines removed from their specific properties (which would not be paid by those in South Seas or those whose lines were already underground). Those discussions had been positive to this point, but more work was needed before an accurate assessment could be developed that would withstand public scrutiny.
Mullins reiterated his position on the CCA survey. Debbie Wells said the numbers provided in that survey were correct, and that Captivans wanted to know what this project entailed. Holzheimer said islanders want a good analysis of the project. Gibson said it sounds like the CCA letter is going out, and maybe this will scare some people off. It might also inspire us to get us off our butts and get this project moving. He hoped the groups would still try to work together. Mark Wells said at a previous panel meeting it was stated that the project was “in the 11th hour,” which was a reason to get information out to the island. Mullins said that comment was rejected immediately at that meeting as inaccurate. Mark Wells said the proposed project would have cost a lot less a few years ago, and that price is going to go up in the future. Mullins said all the facts are not known, and when they were clearly it would time to have this publicly discussed.
6. Financial Report: Gooderham noted that an update was provided and that work would be done to establish a precise QuickBooks file for Stilwell’s use. Mullins asked the panel to approve the hurricane committee’s portion of the budget as proposed in previous meeting. Kelly moved approval of $3,000 for hurricane committee (Pyle second). Unanimous approval.
7. Water Quality: Gooderham explained that the panel had made a request to the Lee County Legislative Delegation last December for $85,000 in state funding for a water quality study of the island. That request had survived to be included in the Senate version of the budget, and had then been included in the final conference version of the budget approved by the Legislature this session. It now awaited approval by Gov. Crist, and he had sent e-mail addresses and a draft letter out last weekend to encourage panelists and Captivans to urge Crist to support the appropriation.
In the meantime, Gooderham had met with representatives of Lee County and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program Monday to discuss options to partner with either of them for additional funding. Karen Bickford, TDML coordinator for Lee County, had provided him with a scope of work for a monitoring project she had proposed for the county to undertake, and they were looking for communities to cost-share such a project to get it underway. Gooderham would continue discussions with the county as to cost, and had also sent an e-mail to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to see if there was a way to partner with them on a short-term project to provide baseline monitoring results. The South Water Florida Management District had some grant funding available for such projects, but the application deadline was May 18 and work needed to be complete by Sept. 30, 2007.
Gibson provides an update on SCCF water monitoring project and its status, noting that they were looking at opportunities to seek funding. Gooderham noted that he needed to find out what conditions came with the state funding, as there could be issues about the kinds of technology that could be used in studies or how partnerships would be arranged. Mullins noted that leads for both funding opportunities came through PURRE, and asked people to support this funding with the governor and Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who had been Captiva representative prior to election. Someone suggested looking into www.petitionspot.com to generate letters. It was also suggested that the water quality committee be re-formed at the June CCP meeting.
8. Land Development Code Committee: Gooderham noted that the county group coordinating the ceremony had gotten a request from Commissioner Bob Janes to invite a CCP representative to speak at the ceremony. Consensus among the panel was that someone should participate. Mullins made a motion to send a representative to be determined later (Kelly second). Approval was unanimous.
9. Sanibel Causeway opening ceremony: Gooderham gave an update on the committee's actions. It met on Dec. 12 after the last CCP meeting. Issues raised included the question of liability for property owners from accident on the shoulder itself. The committee decided to hold a public meeting, then develop final survey language based on issues raised at that meeting. They hoped the survey would go to voters and property owners, eliminating any duplication and allowing one vote per person when feasible. They hoped to set a public meeting some morning in February at the CCA building, but wanted the meeting to be held independently of any other organization. Representatives from Lee DOT and LCEC would be invited, along with an attorney and others. They would ask Mike Kelly to moderate, and have the session recorded for both audio and video. Another meeting had not been set until chair Dave Jensen returned in late January.
10. Tree Subsidy: Two applications, from the Captiva Erosion Prevention District and Susan Sherlock, were presented. Stilwell moved (Hullar second) to approve both applications. Approval was unanimous.
11. New Business:Fenniman raised the issue of the CCA letter concerning structure of the panel, and asked why it was not discussed under the bylaws discussion. He said the CCA was willing to meet with people interested in discussing the survey at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 9, at the Captiva Community Center. Mullins said the group should check with Miville as to his availability due to personal matters he was dealing with at this time. Mullins made a motion to invite the CCA to join with the CCP to form a committee on underground utilities. Motion died for lack of a second. Mullins again asked what is the urgency in issuing this survey.
As to the panel structure, Mullins noted that he had asked that the request be moved to a later discussion. He read the e-mail that he previously sent to the panel concerning the CCA request. There was a discussion of the bylaws committee’s efforts to resolve the problem, and why that could not be achieved at the time. Thus, the committee opted to put out bylaws as is, to reflect the existing structure and ask the panel and both groups involved for guidance and negotiations.
Fenniman said they were just starting the dialogue, that he had offered to meet with CPOA president Hal Miller to discuss this. He also asked to clarify the two county agreements with the CPOA concerning the panel regarding membership issues, noting that the 2006 agreement contained no provision for CCA membership on the panel. Gooderham responded that his understanding was the 2006 agreement covered only the deliverables contained within that agreement (funding for a plan amendment and LDC language development) and that the previous 2002 agreement stayed in force concerning panel makeup as required by the county commission at the panel’s formation. He said a further interpretation would have to come from the County Attorney’s Office, which had drafted both agreements.
Mullins made a motion to consider CCA’s request and not discuss it further at this point in time but to urge the two groups to keep an open mind and look into negotiations (Hullar second). Kelly said the CCA needed to address its letter to the CPOA, as this was an issue between the two groups and not the panel. Hullar said that to bring this island together, the CCA had to be a true partner in the panel and the CPOA was in a position to request. He hoped they could come to a proposed agreement to bring to the panel.
Debbie Wells said that with Stillwell as treasurer she would be able to provide accurate financial information. She said that the CCA could be able to support panel at that point. Silverglide asked who CCA represents that the panel does not currently represent. This is a CPOA-CCA issue, and the panel cannot solve the problem. Mullins said Steve Cutler needs to speak to this letter as a CPOA representative who served on the bylaws committee. He said the CCA should put in writing what the CCA is willing to do. The CPOA has spelled out its demands. The motion was called with a 5-3 approval (Stilwell, Pyle and Silverglide opposed).
11. Adjourment: The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.