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Special Town Hall meeting works to address wastewater pipeline concerns

By Staff | Aug 23, 2011

About 30 people attended a special town hall meeting at the Lee County commission chambers Monday to hear details and ask questions about the $5.3 million project to demolish the Waterway Estate Waste Water treatment plant and the construction of 5 miles of pipeline to divert water to the Del Prado Wastewater Treatment facility.

Representatives from Lee County Utilities and the management group Government Services Group were among those on hand to give background on the plan and to field questions from concerned residents.

While the turn out was thin, those who attended had serious questions concerning the problems and inconveniences that the pipeline work may pose.

Foremost on people’s minds was the diversion of traffic, possible water shut offs, and cosmetic concerns. Pamela Keyes, the new utility director of Lee County Utilities, did her best to ease these worries.

“We have worked hard to make ourselves available to you at all times before, during, and after the construction. We have ongoing programs in place so you can reach out,” said Keyes.

These programs include a new website (www.LCUimprovements.info) that gives a timeline for the project and where construction will be on what dates and an emergency hotline that is open from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. for people to call if there is a problem after construction hours.

Keyes went on to say “What you can expect is normal construction noise and that your driveway may be blocked or rerouted temporarily. Your driveway will be restored to its original state. You can also expect some traffic diversions as well.”

Keyes added that homeowners will receive two weeks notice in the form of a notice on the front door that construction crews are on the way and that crews will be on site from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday, with only some exceptions in the case of major traffic issues.

Another worry of attendees at the meeting concerned how many construction crews would be working at one time.

“While there will be three crews working at a time they all won’t be tearing up ground, they will be working in order,” said Rob Dickinson of Government Services Group. “One will be pulling up ground, one will be laying pipe, and one will bring up the rear doing restoration.”

Pradeep Sethi, also of Government Services Group, and project manager for the job, built on this and addressed some attendees’ concerns about open holes.

“We will close everything up by the end of the day. That is why we have restoration working simultaneously with other crews, there should be no reason for crews to come back once they’ve passed through an area. We will close up open areas so no one is hurt” said Sethi.

A representative from the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and School on Orange Grove Blvd expressed concern that it would be a major problem for their school if they did not have water or if it was contaminated.

Sethi answered, “We have done a study of the area and feel that no one’s water should be affected. In most cases, the pipe will go through the median or on the side of the road. If there is a problem you can call the emergency hotline.” He added that the pipes will be buried a minimum of 36 inches below the ground.

When asked how long it would take to get something fixed in the event that someone does have to call the hotline, Lee County District 4 Commissioner Tammy Hall, said that issues should be fixed quickly and that the goal is to have no one shut down.

The $5.3 million price tag makes some residents bristle at the timeliness of this project but Keyes calls the figure “competitive.” She also considers the project completely necessary to protect against possible storm surge in the event of a hurricane and that even though the project will be done in mostly urban areas, all environmental considerations are being attended to.

The project is slated to get fully under way at Inlet Drive in North Fort Myers on Aug. 31, and will proceed up Orange Grove Boulevard between Oct. 11 and Feb. 12, 2012. Completion is scheduled for September 2012. Streets affected include Inlet Drive, Orange Grove Boulevard, State Route 78, Pondella Road, and Barret Road.

For details concerning the rest of the tentative timeline, visit www.LCUimprovements.info. There you will also find the emergency phone number and other information regarding this major project.