5 Things To Know from the Cape Coral City Council Meeting (Feb. 13)

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Cape Coral's City Council held its regular meeting at City Hall Monday evening.

The meeting included discussions on the SE 47th Terrace Streetscaping Project, the filling of the City's first official Youth Council, and more. 

Below are five takeaways from last night’s meeting.


Youth Council has its first 14 members

The students that will lead Cape Coral's inaugural Youth Council has been set.

After interviewing nearly 30 students, the city council selected 14 students to serve as Youth Council Members beginning this month.

The youth council will act as a full advisory board to the city council and consist of two students (one senior and one junior) from each of the six area high schools, as well as two at-large members who were selected from home-schooled students.

Juniors selected for the council will a serve a two-year term expiring in May 2018. Seniors selected for this first council term will serve until May of this year, at which time a new group of high school juniors will be selected to replace the outgoing senior students.

The youth council will have a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of local government and will focus on issues affecting Cape Coral's younger generation. The youth council will then bring their findings and recommendations to the city council.

The new youth council will hold their first meeting on Friday, February 24 at 2:30pm in council chambers at city hall. They will then hold regular meetings every two weeks.

The following students were selected by the city council to serve on the youth council, Cape Coral High School- Javier Diaz (senior), Maxwell Slaffer (junior); Ida Baker High School- Tabatha Lehmann (senior), Helena Shawver (junior); Island Coast High School- Max Mcardle-Sykes (senior), Riley Hare (junior); Mariner High School- Michael Gibbs (senior), Madeline Miller (junior); North Fort Myers High School- Sofia Pultro (senior), Austin Wilson (junior); Oasis High School- Branden Pearson (senior), Oriana Troche (junior); At-Large- Jacob Williamson (senior), Olivia Cerretani (junior).


SE 47th Terrace Streetscaping Project design firm officially hired

The revamping of SE 47th Terrace continued to move forward Monday evening when the city council voted unanimously to enter into a contract with CPH, Inc. for professional design services on the project.

The initiative calls for a complete renovation of what many feels is the heart of the City's Entertainment District.

The project calls for such features as widened brick paver sidewalks, new landscaping, streetlighting, bulb-outs on SE 47th Terrace from Coronado Parkway to Del Prado Boulevard.

Over the years, SE 47th Terrace has become a hub for night time destinations such as Dixie Roadhouse, Backstreets Sports Bar, Rack'em Spirits & Times, Big Blue Brewing Company, Fish Tale Grill, Cigar Bar, and other bars and restaurants, as well as a litany of retail stores, and Big John's Shopping Center.

The contract between the City and CPH, Inc. calls for the firm to create a complete design of the project including not only the aesthetics of the completed project but, such infrastructure needs as traffic and environmental impacts, stormwater storage, and drainage.

CPH, Inc. was chosen after the city conducted interviews with four companies who submitted proposals. The contract calls for CPH, Inc. to receive $578,099 for their services. There is also a 10% city controlled contingency included bringing the total cost of the contract to $635,909.

In total, the project is expected to cost nearly $9 million with the cost being shared by the city and the city's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA).


Council approves moving forward with streetscaping project construction manager negotiations

In addition to approving the hiring of a firm to conduct design services on the SE 47th Terrace Streetscaping Project, the city council also unanimously approved City Manager John Szerlag's request to enter into negotiations with Chris-Tel Company of Southwest Florida, Inc. to act as the Construction Manager at Risk for the project.

If the city and Chris-Tel Company come to an agreement, the firm will oversee the construction of the nearly $9 million project.

Chris-Tel Company was chosen as the number one firm for the services after the City received two bids for the services.

Once a final contract has been negotiated between the City and the firm, City Manager John Szerlag will come to the city council to seek approval to enter into a formal agreement with Chris-Tel Company to oversee the streetscaping project.

If all goes according to schedule, Szerlag has said his goal is to have shovels in the ground sometime in Fiscal Year 2018 (October 2017-September 2018), with the hope of completing the project in Fiscal Year 2019 (October 2018-September 2019).


Top candidate for city auditor position turns down job

The road to hiring a new city auditor hit a bump when the city council's top candidate for the job decided to withdraw his name from consideration.

Convening for a special meeting last week, the city council heard from the top three candidates chosen to fill the City Auditor position when current City Auditor Margaret Krym retires at the end of this month.

After a contentious deadlock, the city council chose T. Paul Tomoser, who is presently employed as the Internal Audit Director for Creighton University in Nebraska, over Andrea R. Butola and J. Bradley Simmons, as their top choice. However, according to W.D. Higgintotham, Senior Vice President for the Mercer Group, the firm hired by the city to conduct the auditor search said he spoke to Tomoser later that evening and was told by Tomoser that after talking to his wife he didn’t feel the job was a good fit.

With that news, the city council went back to debating which of the two remaining candidates would move up to the number one choice or would they send the Mercer Group back to search for new candidates.

After determining the two remaining candidates were more than qualified, the council members voted once again on who would become the number one choice and reminiscent of Wednesday's meeting, they were deadlocked with Mayor Marni Sawicki, Council Members Rick Williams, John Carioscia, and Marilyn Stout voting for Butola, while Council Members Rana Erbrick, Richard Leon, Jessica Cosden and Jim Burch thought Simmons to be the best choice.

After a few rounds of back and forth, Krym came to the podium and said while both candidates were qualified, she had concerns with Simmons lack of management experience saying it was an important factor in the job the city council was seeking to fill.

With Krym's input, Leon rethought his vote for Simmons and switched to Butola, thus giving her the majority of council support.

With the vote, Higgintotham said he would enter into negotiations with Butola, and the city council will hold a special meeting on February 27 to hear an update from him and hopefully move forward with the hiring of Butola as the new city auditor. The city council also agreed that if Butola were to decide not to accept the position, Higgintotham had the authority to begin negotiations with Simmons for the position.


City announces irrigation water connect agreement with FGUA

City Manager John Szerlag announced that the City and Florida Governmental Utility Authority (FGUA) for the use of an irrigation water connect.

As part of the new 30-year agreement, the city has agreed to spend $3.5 million on reuse system improvements related to the expansion of the City's Utilities Expansion Project into the North 1 area. FGUA will contribute $500,000 in credit against future reuse irrigation water purchases made by the City from FGUA.

Once the improvements are complete, the City will receive 1.5 million gallons of reuse irrigation water daily from FGUA at a rate of 25% less than the lowest reuse irrigation water rate per 1,000 gallons included in FGUA's rates charged to the North Fort Myers system, which is currently 25 cents per 1,000 gallons.

The agreement comes on the heels of a contentious relationship between the City and FGUA, where Cape Coral filed for an administrative hearing regarding FGUA's intent of drilling shallow injection near Cape Coral water supplies, that city staff said could pose health risks and possible contamination to city water supplies.

Szerlag said during Monday night's meeting that FQUA has agreed that it would not drill shallow injection wells near Cape Coral water supplies, and the city will dismiss its request for a hearing now that the two have agreed to the new interlocal agreement.

Hearing Szerlag's presentation, the city council voted 8-0 to approve the city moving forward with the agreement.