Washington Park sewer grant request goes to state

MOORE HAVEN — The Glades County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement for community development block grant engineering services for the Washington Park Improvement Project with Craig A. Smith (CAS) Governmental Services Inc. on Nov. 13.

County Manager Martin Murphy brought forward the county’s grant application for the project, which will eliminate aging and/or failing existing septic systems and lift stations that leach into and pollute the Caloosahatchee River, which flows west into Lee County, and Lake Okeechobee that flows south into the Everglades system from the Caloosahatchee.

The request is being made to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for a Glades County Caloosahatchee River & Estuary Area Wastewater Grant of $891,848. That would pay for replacing systems between Avenues N, O, S and Fourth Street from the Eighth Street Canal to Riverside Drive that affect the Caloosahatchee and the lake. Design and permitting for the overall master project was completed in 2016, but some components may need updating due to recent construction on Avenue R and Fourth Street, the staff report said.

Mr. Murphy explained Tuesday that the county board was being asked to join in the overall agreement as a party to it but that the Moore Haven/Glades City-County Public Works Authority (CCPWA) would take over the project from here, except for any necessary amendments that might need approval later. Glades County’s wastewater system is operated through that partnership with the municipality.

“The CCPWA continues to address sanitary and sewer needs through removal of old, failing septic tanks and aging lift stations, as appropriate, that are directly leaching into Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatehee River Basin and Estuary and the Everglades West Coast Watersheds (Fort Myers area) and, ultimately, south into the Florida Everglades. The project addresses life, health and safety issues with the removal of pollutants entering endangered state waters by the removal of old, failing septic systems and aging lift stations (in favor of switching) to a regional wastewater system. The project also will provide for additional conveyance capacity for additional homes and businesses,” the report said.

The breakdown of costs is $749,755 for construction, $112,008 for project management, $26,541 for preconstruction activities and $3,544 for bidding services.

Commissioner Donna Storter Long noted that the paperwork needed to be changed to indicate the project manager is County Manager Murphy. Asked for anything she had to add, Connie Vanassche of CAS Governmental Services said the application would be submitted to Tallahassee to be executed through the DEP secretary, “and then we’ll get notice to proceed.” Commissioner Tim Stanley’s motion, seconded by Commissioner Long, passed unanimously.

On a related agenda matter, the commissioners also voted to approve an amendment to their agreement with Craig A. Smith & Associates covering the Washington Park project that, County Attorney Richard Pringle explained, “will incorporate appropriate contract provisions to protect Glades County.” He said in view of the fact that the county’s financing is limited, the obligation to pay CAS “is contingent upon receiving the agreed amount as a grant.” Mr. Pringle said he was unsure whether CAS had all of its figures in the current version of the contract yet, and said “the guaranteed maximum price provision protects Glades County” in this event.

Board Chairman John Ahern noted that the board’s actions “will just get it started” because the process will take years. The grant agreement would expire in 2021 but could be extended.

In other actions, commissioners:

• Passed a resolution officially conveying two lots in Moore Haven to the Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity, where that organization is planning to build its first two houses in Glades County within a few months. The transfer had been approved back in September, and this was to give official board ratification.

• Voted 5-0 to disapprove a contribution of $3,047 requested to fulfill its 6 percent federal financing match requirement by the Early Learning Coalition and to send a letter to the organization explaining the county’s inability to contribute that amount and requesting a waiver. The county has done this in each of the past three years.

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