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City to ‘test drive’ water delivery system for possible reservoir

April 4, 2017
By JIM LINETTE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

City Council unanimously approved the allocation of up to $186,657 from the Utilities Department's water and sewer fund to "test drive" the delivery of irrigation quality water from the Southwest Aggregate Mine in the northeast to Gator Slough to determine the feasibility of a proposed city reservoir that would double the storage capability of the city's freshwater canal system.

Consulting firm Water Science Associates will conduct the analysis of the idea of converting the aggregate mine into a nearly 2 billion gallon reservoir that would help replenish low canal levels in the dry season.

Utilities Director Jeff Pearson's proposal is to purchase the 1,000-acre property on U.S. 41 to turn it into a reservoir capable of delivering 15 to 17 million gallons a day using the swales along US. 41 leading to Gator Slough which is the feeder canal for the city freshwater canal system.

"If this works it will double the storage in our 18 basins," Pearson said.

In Pearson's previous presentation at a council meeting, it was said that the reservoir not only would benefit Cape Coral, but the entire region. Charlotte County and North Fort Myers both have flooding problems caused by an interruption of the natural sheet flow of water from the north due to man-made dams created by the construction of U.S. 41 and I-75. Water is collecting there with no place to go.

Water Science Associations will do water sampling, review the methods of water delivery, as well as monitor, measure and collect data for 120 days to determine if the process works and is cost effective for the city.

Purchasing the mining property could cost $32 million to $38 million, including improvements such as a pump house, pipelines and reinforcing the reservoir area to hold that much water. Because of the environmental benefits, the city is confident the state will help with funding for the project.

Streetscape Project

Council also unanimously approved the design concept for the Southeast 47th Terrace Streetscape Project that was approved by the Community Redevelopment Agency commissioners in a special meeting prior to the City Council session after a presentation by consulting contractor CPH, Inc.

Funding of the $8.5 million project will be shared by the city and the CRA. The city's portion essentially is with the utility and drainage upgrades and other underground improvements. City Finance Director Victoria Bateman said the CRA's portion could consist of a bank loan or line of credit, but as long as the CRA's cash flow of $1 million continues, she sees no need for a loan.

The project includes not only utility and drainage improvements, but traffic and roadway improvements with traffic calming elements, and streetscape and beautification elements. Traffic calming tools include speed humps, cushions and tables, raised intersections, narrowing of vehicular travel areas, reducing access points, limit on-street parking, wider paverstone pedestrian and bike areas, and a roundabout intersection at Vincennes Boulevard. Landscaping and sidewalk "furniture" features will be determined at a later date.

"This is a legacy project that will change the focal point of a pedestrian area from the bottom up," said City Manager John Szerlag. "Once the design phase is complete, we anticipate a nine- to 12-month construction period to complete."

Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

The city's long-awaited Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was approved by council on Monday. When implemented, the plan will add 93 miles of sidewalks, 22 miles of multi-use pathways, and 140 miles of on-street bike paths over the next 20 years. The total cost is estimated at $63 million which can be funded through state and federal grant requests along with a portion of the city's gas tax revenue.

With that in mind, Cape Coral Bike-Ped Club and city of Cape Coral were presented with a 2016 Bicycle Friendly Community award by the Florida Bicycle Association. The award is based on bicycle safety measures in recognition of accomplishing that goal.

Council approved companion ordinance amendments to the land use map for properties located at 1603-1609 S.E. 26th St. adjacent to and owned by the Church of the Epiphany. One request amends the designation of 1609 S.E. 26th St. from public facilities to commercial/professional and the second request changes the zoning of all three (six lots) parcels to pedestrian/commercial.

The church purchased the "blighted" parcels for the purpose of opening a school, but those plans have been abandoned and the congregation is willing to sell it for commercial use.

Council also approved an ordinance amendment request hanging regulations for neighborhood storage facilities placed in pedestrian/commercial and corridor districts. The item was brought to council because three storage facility projects currently are in the works through the planning department estimated to consist of around a $20 million investment in the city.

Council's next regular voting meeting is Monday, April 17, at City Hall.



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