CAPTIVA COMMUNITY PANEL
December 11, 2007
Panel Members in Attendance: Ron Gibson, Gordon Hullar, Dave Jensen, Mike Kelly, Rene Miville, Mike Mullins, Nathalie Pyle, Craig Schwann, Harry Silverglide, Sandy Stilwell
1. The meeting convened at 9:05 a.m. The minutes from the Nov. 13 meeting having been reviewed, there was a motion by Kelly (Hullar second) to approve. Approval was unanimous.
There was a brief update by Gooderham and Stilwell concerning two meetings on this issue. One had been with Douglas Meurer, director of utilities for Lee County, with Stilwell and Gooderham on Monday, Dec. 10. The history of the sewer issue on the island was discussed and background offered to Meurer, and he provided some insights as to what would be involved in such a project plus what other options he could foresee for the island. The second meeting was set for Friday, Dec. 14, beginning at 9 a.m. at Sanibel City Hall with representatives from Lee County, the City of Sanibel and the Panel. Gooderham noted that more than one panel member would be attended, but he felt this meeting was a fact-finding gathering--more to hear what the county and city had to say than to discuss any issue that could ever come back before the council. Nonetheless, he asked if anyone had any issue with multiple panel members attending, and none was raised.
Gooderham also summarized the past history of sewer discussions with the city and county, and reiterated that this meeting was only to determine if there was any real interest on the part of the city and county to discuss sanitary sewer service and water quality concerns in the wake of last fall's beach closings. These was no commitment on the part of Captiva to pursue this, and all information would need to come back to the panel and the community for discussion and further fact-finding.
Hullar stressed we needed data to show we have a problem. A project of this nature was not going forward without a consensus and an indication of need. Schwann asked is connecting to the city's sewer system was the only option. A discussion of package plants vs. water treatment utilities water ensued, and there was mention that package plants may not be able to be permitted on barrier island any longer. Mullins noted that the panel had passed a water quality resolution at its last meeting noting a number of options, and that funding would be needed to study the feasibility of those options. He said issues that arose in the past are not completely relevant today, and that we need to start a dialogue into options. Miville noted he had asked Gooderham to send a letter to Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra concerning some comments that head been reported about the potential impact of sewer services on Captiva's development. Had there been a response (Gooderham replied no) and should it be sent to all council people before the Dec. 14 meeting? Mullins said this would be a county meeting, and let's see what happens without future action.
Gibson said he was glad this issue had gotten to this level without individuals having to get involved, glad the county is stepping up. Silverglide asked whether additional water quality testing had been requested; Jeff Shuff said the city of Sanibel had tested out here and we did well. Gibson said the coordination of the various groups testing water in the area was happening now. Jensen noted he had contacted the Health Dept. about additional testing but had not gotten a response. Schwann said there should be more testing through high season. Stilwell asked if we could work with the Health Dept. to expand testing. Kelly wondered whether there was anything we can do in the county Land Development Code about testing? Jensen asked if the panel should contact Health Dept head Dr. Judith Hartner before the Dec. 14 meeting. Consensus was that it was not necessary at this time. Mullins urged coordinated testing, noting that the Bayous Preservation Association was seeking support from the Captiva Erosion Prevention District, Sanibel, Lee County and the South Florida Water Management District for their efforts. We needed to avoid redundant testing and bring these organizations together. Jensen said the panel should work with the county first, look at alternatives after that.
Gooderham and Stilwell offered a brief discussion as to how the numbers now before the panel had been configured. Gooderham noted that each line item had a brief explanation, the Web site expense had been clarified from the prior meeting and that the potential costs of underground utilities Municipal Services Benefit Unit were detailed at the bottom, but were informational and not requiring action at this time. Stilwell noted that the administration line item had been zeroed out pending discussion, but that the panel did need a little money designated for administrative help for things such as responding to donors and very short-term projects.
Miville noted that in 2007 the panel had pledged to pay half the expenses of the Hurricane Preparation committee, but it was unclear whether any other group had matched that offered. He asked if the panel was not going to be paying all of the committee's expenses in 2008. Mullins said $3,000 had been budgeted in 2007, but actual expenses were only $1,500. He asked if a matching funding request had not been made to the Captiva Civic Association. Doris Holzheimer was not sure whether a 2007 request had ever been submitted, and that no request planned for this year. She noted the committee had very few expenses last year thanks to generous donations by the Jensens and the Gibsons; the only costs were Governor's Hurricane Conference expenses. This year, we'll have more costs for things such as satellite phones. Mullins asked whether the CCA would cover half the committee's cost for the 2008 budget. Pyle suggested the committee put the request in writing to submit to the group.
Silverglide made a motion to add $3,000 to the administrative budget line item (Kelly second). Miville encouraged people on the panel to participate in the activity, that it increases involvement and ownership. Stilwell noted that as a 501c3 the panel needed to be accurate and timely in responding to donors. The question was called and the vote was unanimous to approve the line item increase. Miville made a motion (Silverglide second) to adopt the 2008 budget as amended. Approval was unanimous.
4. Member Terms:
Mullins offered a brief discussion on the process under taken as spelled out in the bylaws, that members were polled as to a preference for making 2008 a one-year term (with a second two-year term possible) vs. starting 2008 with a two-year term and another two years possible after that. Four members had responded, and Mullins than asked for a show of hands as to preference before some other method would need to be undertaken. At the showing, the following term structure was decided:
One Year: Mullins, Gibson, Jensen, Schwann, Pyle
Two Years: Miville, Hullar, Stilwell, Silverglide, Kelly
5. Water Quality:
Having discussed this extensive, Jensen asked for questions and was asked whether the Dec. 14 meeting would be open to the public. Gooderham said that, since it was a city-county meeting, he could not say with certainty but would check with Commissioner Janes' office. He also said he hoped to communicate what happened at the meeting to the panel e-mail list that weekend. Sharon Michie noted the improved quality of the local water thanks to the reduction in water releases from Lake Okeechobee, but that islanders needed to keep pressure on water management officials. It was noted that the Everglades Conference would be held on the island Jan. 10-12, and to contact the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation for delays. Silverglide said he had discussed the possibility of septic systems inspection with Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah, and Judah favored the idea and would support island efforts to do so. Gooderham noted that, while the planning staff had been unsure how to pursue such a system, brief discussions with utilities director Meurer unearthed some options that he would explore further.
6. Underground Utilities:
Miville noted that the possibility of bringing sewers to the island would change face of the project. He had spoken with the county's director of public works, Jim Lavender, on the possibilities of doing one overall utilities project, and that we need to realize it was time for a major upgrade. He felt we will not have to reinvent the wheel, but that Sanibel needs to be heard from first to see if Captivans will be interested in putting in sewers. Everything was in play now. As to costs: The county had hired an expert to determine a more refined scope of work. County staff was now refining the project budget and scope, and we'd be hearing about it shortly. There will be an official estimate from the county once sewers have been determined Ð perhaps in February or March.
Mullins noted that he and Gooderham had met with MSTBU chief Elizabeth Walker Nov. 19 for an update on this work-in-progress as the county was still evaluating numbers. It was noted that a previous island survey had promulgated a project estimate that did not represent an official position of the county, and that Janes had been quoted at the time saying that any indication of amounts was premature. The county was getting a lot of input on ways to approach this, including the various funding options being explored by other governments. Based on this meeting, two tiers of benefits for an apportionment structure were being explored, but that Walker would be able to fully explain the process and its conclusions when she came out to present her findings next year.
Miville said the panel should have a public meeting and make information available to the community. Pyle noted there was confusion over the variety of projects, and that the panel needs to keep things moving on every front. The community is going to be confused, and we need to alleviate that. Schwann urged regular updates to the community. Kelly noted that the panel got consent from community to do the safety shoulder project. The county is ready to go; we're crazy unless we proceed with the road. It's the one big thing that the panel has done, and we needed to show our support for the shoulder to DOT and the county. Jensen said the community needed to know that doing the road work now would drive up the cost of future projects if the road had to be re-done later. Kelly said that could be factored into the sewer project estimate. Mullins said it would cost $1 million for shoulders. He went to see Janes after meeting with Walker, and explained we would have a problem if the safety shoulder money was diverted to other projects. Janes assured us the money would be reserved in any event. The panel should send a letter to seek assurances that the shoulder funding is locked in and other projects will not jeopardize it.
Kelly said that Captiva could lose those funds in a tight budget year. We've done so much work, I don't want to lose it. If we have to tear up the shoulder in a few years, so be it -- that's life in the big city. Silverglide said the roads have never been in worse shape, virtually useless to bikers and walkers; it looks like a construction site that's been abandoned. We need to repave Captiva Drive and get the road looking right. Sanibel did a reasonable job on San-Cap Road after its sewer project, why can't we get that? Gibson said he would hate for two large projects to hold up the safety lanes, and that it's not an easy task to coordinate all these projects. Mullins asked why do we keep doing all these things piecemeal. We need data and certainty on other projects. That might delay the shoulder project somewhat, but pursuing secure funding for it is prudent. Putting things and ripping it up is a nightmare. Silverglide said if the economy gets worse, we will lose our $1 million funding.
Mullins made a motion to write a letter to the county to lock in funding for the safety shoulders (Miville second). Hullar said he supported Kelly's position; don't defer shoulders until we decide on sewers. Holding shoulders hostage is wrong, better to waste $1 million dollars than defer shoulders indefinitely. They were sorely needed now, and they were supported by a high percentage of the people on Captiva. He doesn't question the intent and commitment of county staff and officials, but he questions their ability to commit funds. They have a lot of other issues to consider. Stilwell said we should get a potential timeline from the Dec. 14 meeting first, get a sense of cost and schedule. Miville said the panel should discuss this after the Sanibel meeting. Gibson said we already told the county we want this done after Easter. If they can give us more concrete information, fine Ñ but don't do anything to change their immediate plans. Mullins asked what's the down side to sending them a letter. Kelly said the downside is waffling again on time. We want the road and we want it in April. Randy Cerchie was uncertain about panel's position. We need to tell him that we support construction in April and be clear about our commitment.
Silverglide asked how long it would take to do all this, best case, if sewers and undergrounding was included? Gooderham responded that each of the projects exceeded two years, so combined it would be at least three years. Pyle said the county has already committed to doing the shoulder project after Easter; the letter indicates we're waffling. Wait and get more information. Mullins said we have nothing in writing right now. We should confirm a commitment we want them to do it in April. Silverglide asked whether we would have a commitment on the other projects by April. Mullins said he would draft a letter and let the panel consider it at the next meeting. Schwann wondered whether such a letter would draw attention that could cost us funding. The question was called and the motion was defeated by an 8-2 vote (Mullins and Miville dissenting).
Kelly made a motion that the panel president should write a letter to the county firmly supporting the April 15 date for construction of the road and safety shoulder. he should send it after the meeting with Sanibel if there's any positive reaction from the Sanibel meeting. He could hold the letter until the next panel meeting, otherwise send it next week at the president's discretion. (Hullar second). Mullins said the panel letter should wait until January, that it could confuse the county on the island's interest in sewers. Pyle asked if Kelly should table the motion until January. Hullar said the panel needed to act now, to make it clear in people's minds. Schwann said if Sanibel is interested, timeline is still 2-3 years down the road for a resolution. Why not send the letter? Stilwell said we can afford $1 million for the roads, that will not change the vote on sewers. Hullar asked to amend the motion (Kelly agreed) to send the letter now. Nothing will change from the meeting with Sanibel. Silverglide asked whether the county could only do part of the project now. Mullins said DOT is planning to do this after Easter, right? Letter could jeopardize discussions on sewer, could be a poison pill to sewers. Hullar said that, no, planning to proceed with the shoulder project will not poison sewers. Throwing sewers in could confuse the issue.
Miville said seeing that these projects can take several years, the panel is firm in getting road paved ASAP. Silverglide said we need the roadwork done in April without jeopardizing any core services project; $1 million is a drop in the bucket with those two projects. Mullins said that paving costs are typically a standard 40% of sewer project costs. Silverglide said to forget costs; we deserve to have a road paved soon. One is not interdependent on the other any more, we can do both. Jensen said if the condition of Captiva Drive is due to the Island Water Association project, why is the county project the remedy to that? Kelly said we need to send a letter now to confirm panel and community support for construction beginning in mid-April. The question was called and the motion passed 8-2 (Mullins and ???? dissenting). Hullar asked that the media and administrator expunge the last sentence from the description of the shoulder project status handed out to the public.
7. Hurricane Committee:
Holzheimer said the committee needed Structural Safety Inspector volunteers. We always need more, but we should have enough teams to do it. Another training is planned this winter to get more volunteers ready. She noted that Captiva achieved Storm Ready designation Nov. 13--one of six Florida communities and three barrier island to do so. The committee was planning a community celebration Jan. 26-27. On Saturday noon-3 p.m. at Community Center, they'd have hot dogs, chips, drinks, and a personal preparation fair to prepare for disasters. Vendors may be invited to discuss what they do to help you prepare for a disaster. On Sunday, there would be another SkyWarn training at Tween Waters at 2 p.m. Send suggestions about what else to include in the celebration to Doris Holzheimer or Ann Bradley. They hoped to make this a real open community celebration.
8. Finance Committee:
Stilwell reported that the fund-raising letter sent in October had brought in about $20,000 in donations, and that the panel had almost $30,000 cash on hand. She noted that the letter brought in quite a bit for not much work. She was planning to work with Gooderham to send out receipts, and she urged community to donate once they had worked out the most advantageous plan with their financial advisors concerning tax deductibility. Jensen asked whether the panel should do another push by letter. An audience member noted it was important to catch people at the end of the tax year. Hullar suggested they do it through the e-mail list. Mullins said mail may never get to people if it's sent to Property Appraiser address. Miville suggested contacting the big contributors? Jensen said they should cross reference the PA database with last year's contributors list. Mullins said some people could use the tax deduction next year rather than this year. He asked what the average donation was from panel members, and consensus seemed to be about $1,000. He then pledged $1,000 this year or next. Hullar said small contributions are better; it maximizes knowledge and support for panel. Silverglide said both large and small contributors were welcome.
9. LDC Committe:
Kelly noted this effort was the last piece of our program for Captiva. The Captiva Plan is in place, but we need the code to support the rationale to enforce the plan. We have gotten feedback from county planner Jim Mudd, we will incorporate his comments and look into the utilities issues mentioned earlier in the meeting. The committee will send a revised draft to panel members to refresh your memory, and asked how do proceed from there. Did they want to discuss this at a special meeting, or during regular meetings in January or February? He suggested they discuss it in January to decide how to proceed. Get more input and ideas, get county feedback, and get it passed.
Miville said he had asked Gooderham to review the Captiva Erosion Prevention District's emergency response plan, and start draft of possible language to include in the Captiva Plan. Gooderham noted that he had discussed that with CEPD Administrator Alison Hagerup and that it seemed the county had little say in the district's actions--so he was unsure what value inclusion in the land use plan would have. He said Hagerup was going to contact county planning director Paul O'Connor, and he would follow up to see if anything had come from that outreach.
Hullar said he thought it would take multiple sizeable meetings, and suggested they set aside a regular meeting to address these issues to start. Mullins asked why the panel would need many meetings to address this. It was just legal code to implement policies we had already approved, make that language available to the public and get their input. Kelly said that more input was needed on some issues, to decide if it's an issue we should tackle at this point. Mullins said they needed to lay out a schedule of meetings to facilitate scheduling. Silverglide suggested to start with an executive summary of the proposal at a regular meeting and see what we need from that, and to do that in January. Miville suggested it include the CEPD Emergency Response Plan.
Holzheimer urged the panel to do more than check off a box on this, it was a great opportunity to involve the community and they could do it as a way to engage people. Silverglide opined that we suffer from too much information here already, and reiterated to start with an executive summary and dig down from there. He said it would be best to do it a spoonful at a time, not tackle the whole bowl. Stilwell suggested making it a workshop day. Silverglide said the panel can do it as homework. Kelley asked if they should involve the CCA in this as well, as an offer had been made to have that organization's land use attorney review any language to help get it ready for submission. He said the panel needed to revisit this issue to get re-engaged. Jensen suggested an executive summary and a proposal for meetings.
10. Web Site:
Schwann said the three issues raised at the last meeting had been budget, structure and communicating the panel's 501c3 status. He reported that the issue of a 2008 budget had been clarified and addressed, and that he had looked at the site's structure in the past month due to the perception that it was not up to date. He felt the minutes and financial sections were the only ones that needed to be updated more regularly, and that could be handled by volunteers (he offered to help if necessary). He noted that the 501c3 designation was listed in header, but felt the site needed to describe it somewhere else--perhaps to include it in the donations section. He had drafted some language to that effect and the panel consensus was to add that language to the site.
Sharon Michie noted that the rental agents were donating leftover food from their rentals to Harry Chapin Food Bank, and had donated some 4,000 lbs. to date. She urged people to look at their storm supplies and other options to see if there was unopened nonperishable food they could likewise contribute. She said if you would like to donate, drop it at the VIP Rental Agency by Billy's Rentals and we call Food Bank when we have enough. Unopened nonperishable food was preferred; they will take perishable food but you need to call them to pick up from your home.
The audience and panel offered a round of applause to Dave Jensen for his service as panel chair. The meeting adjourned 11:10 a.m.