Northfortmyersneighbor.com

Town hall meeting held to discuss wastewater treatment plant; Three options presented to Waterway Estates

By ANDREA GALABINSKI, nfmneighbor@breezenewspapers.com

Sunday, December 30, 2007 — Time: 11:28:46 PM EST

http://www.northfortmyersneighbor.com/news/articles.asp?articleID=4151

The Waterway Estates issue, specifically what should be done with the wastewater treatment plant, was revisited recently with a town hall meeting organized by County Commissioner Tammy Hall. Over 100 people attended the open meeting held at the commissioners offices downtown.

A 62-page report outlining various options was prepared by Sarasota-based consultants Hazen and Sawyer. It outled the top eight options, “weighed” by various factors. Many citizens were concerned when the county purchased the 5.8-acre, $13.8 million riverfront property and initially said it needed to consider expanding the existing treatment center there.

Douglas Meurer, Lee County’s Utilities director, explained the proposal. Three options, ranked in order, were presented. The first would be to build a new plant on the marina site, the second for the county to purchase North Fort Myers Utilities and divert the water to that plant and the third to enter into an agreement to send the water to the North Fort Myers Utilities plant.

One thing that is different from the last discussion of this issue, according to Hall, was that earlier in the year she believed purchasing North Fort Myers Utilities for expansion of sewage services would not be an option, as she was informed that it was not for sale. She said since then one of the owners passed away and the family has now said it would entertain an offer.

Many voiced their opinions that they would prefer anything but expanding the plant on such valuable property, hoping instead for a marina. Caloosa Isle Yacht Club, which sold the property to the county, had originally planned for and $18 million marina on the site, which would have included a restaurant, tiki bar, boat maintenance facility and playground before the sale.

Gregg Makepeace, president of the North Fort Myers Civic Association, echoed the majority of opinions about considerations for the site.

I would like no plant there at all,” he said.

Many voiced that opinion in a lengthy public comment session.

“On the surface, that solution seems to stand out pretty quickly from the eight options proposed by the consultant. However, the report had discrepancies that were recognized by the originators as having financial errors, which need to be corrected and re-reviewed,” said Makepeace. “I think most of the residents in attendance felt that they were listened to and encouraged that their input will be considered.”

Hall is encouraging more feedback, in e-mails and letters to her office. “There will be a commissioner’s workshop Jan. 10 to review the consultant’s report, but there will be no voting at that time. People will have time to offer their comments before it goes to a vote in February, which hasn’t been scheduled yet.”

Makepeace added, “Citizens need to stay involved and help direct the commissioners to arrive at the best decision, looking ahead 20 to 30 years from now the decision made in 2008 hopefully shows the wisdom of the Board of County Commissioners and that our North Fort Myers community character shines.”

Hall said she’ll also have more public meetings if requested. She noted she was open to any type of meeting, big meetings or small meetings, and in that neighborhood if residents wanted that.

To reveiew the report, the link is http://www.leecounty.com/utilities/uploads/WWE_EVALUATION_DRAFT_120407_withFigures.pdf.

Hall’s e-mail is dist4@leegov.com and address 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers, 33902. The phone number for her office is 533-2226.