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Council gives farmers market, gopher ordinance green light

Reopens discussion on future of Center 4 Life building

June 11, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel City Council approved the contract for the city's farmers market and an ordinance on gopher tortoise mitigation at its recent meeting, as well as revived the Center 4 Life project.

On June 5, the council voted 5-0 in support of a contract with Local Roots for the Sanibel Farmers Market to be held on city grounds. The terms of the contact include a five-year lease with an option for two one-year extensions, annual rent of $5,625 and the prohibition of dogs in the sales vendor area.

Prior to the vote, the dais discussed the prohibition in relation to other events on city property.

Article Photos

The Sanibel City Council recognized four recipients of the Employee Dependent Scholarship Program at its June 5 meeting. Vice Mayor Mick Denham is shown with, from left, Alyssa Vetter, Hailey Upchurch and Amber Schweitzer. Not pictured is Jacob Crandon.

Mayor Kevin Ruane pointed out that the Florida League of Cities carries the city's insurance and it strongly suggested that the city be proactive when it comes to prohibiting dogs on city property.

"It's an issue that seems to be claim driven," he said.

"We do not have to follow our insurance carrier's advice," Ruane added, noting that doing so could be beneficial though when it comes time to renew. "It's a policy decision we're going to need to make."

The council decided to discuss the issue at a future date, with Ruane to reach out to the league.

It also voted 5-0 to approve an ordinance that establishes a fee schedule for the purpose of gopher tortoise mitigation and long-term maintenance and management of habitat at the Bowman's Beach Park recipient site. The action was required by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

In addition, the dais discussed the future of the Center 4 Life building a project put on hold in September as a result of Hurricane Irma. Prior to the cancellation of a workshop at the time, the city was evaluating options for addressing the center's lack of parking and space and aging facilities.

City Manager Judie Zimomra explained that there is renovation, reconstruction or relocation.

"They have very specific criteria for what they would like to see in the building," she said of the center's membership group called the Island Seniors.

The council agreed it is time to move forward on the project.

"This is long overdue," Ruane said. "I feel badly for the seniors."

He pointed out that the Sanibel Community Association has land available, which it had expressed interest in discussing. Ruane added that it might be possible to acquire county and even state funds for the project. He noted that the city constructed the original facility in collaboration with Lee County.

"I'd like a few dollars back in this community," Ruane said, referring to bridge tolls and more.

"They'd like to bring more money back to Lee County," he added of state representatives.

Vice Mayor Mick Denham suggested checking with the adjacent properties for extra parking if the center remained onsite. He noted that a bridge or walkway could be constructed for easy access.

Councilmember Jason Maughan pointed out that the cost to purchase a new piece of land, plus the funds needed to building the new center, would be money that could go to services or programs.

Councilmember Holly Smith noted that the center also houses Community Housing & Resources.

Council directed staff to work out the associated costs and mock-ups for rebuilding on the existing property, as well as to speak to the SCA about its land and to obtain figures. Staff was also instructed to reach out to the adjacent properties on using their parking as additional parking for facility patrons.

A workshop will be scheduled to review and discuss the information.


Also at the meeting, city staff provided an update on the Jordan Marsh project.

Holly Milbrandt, environmental biologist for the Natural Resources Department, explained that the project was put out to bid and only one company responded. However, the estimated cost is 49 percent above what was budgeted for the project which was budgeted at $500,000, plus a $150,000 grant.

The company has indicated a willingness to reduce the scope of work to bring it within budget.

She noted that one option is an alternative configuration to the pump mechanism.

Staff is also looking into possible additional funding sources, like county park impact fees.

They anticipate bringing the project and changes forward at the July meeting for council's approval.

"It seems, at this point, extremely unlikely we will meet the timeline for September," Milbrandt said.

The city received the $150,000 grant from the South Florida Water Management District through its Cooperative Funding Program for construction, but the project must be finished this fiscal year.

Milbrandt explained that the Jordan Marsh project is one of many to receive grant funding, but were delayed due to Irma. Because recipients cannot request extensions for the grants, the district board will meet on June 14 to discuss the status of the involved projects and how it would address the situation.

She said the options raised were an across-the-board extension, an extension for certain counties impacted by the storms, opting to provide no relief to recipients and any other alternatives.

"My understanding is that (district) staff is recommending to the governing board an across-the-board extension," Milbrandt said.

The estimated completion date for the project is now mid-November.


Finance Director Steve Chaipel provided an update on financing options for the city to replenish its disaster reserves. He explained that staff reached out to multiple financial institutions inquiring about a line of credit up to $5 million and the associated terms. About eight institutions responded to the city.

Some of those to respond included Iberia, Regions, SunTrust, Fifth-Third and Capital. Chaipel noted that Wells Fargo and Bank of America, both on the island, were unresponsive to the city's request.

Staff received information for mostly two- and three-year terms. The interest rates for the two-year terms ranged from 2.4 percent to 3.98 percent; three-year terms were 2.5 percent to 5.2 percent.

He added that some had fees and others offered fixed rates, but staff did not have the details yet.

Ruane suggested focusing on the longest term and locking in the rate.

"I'd rather not have interest rate fluctuations," he said, explaining that interest rates are on the rise and reimbursements from FEMA do not come quickly. "The interest rate is only indicative if we use it."

Ruane added that he reached out to the loan council for the Florida League of Cities.

"They couldn't offer anything that we couldn't get from a local bank," he said.


- Jane Holder, buildings and grounds chair for the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village, provided financial and operations information to the council. The city was scheduled to approve a new five-year agreement with the facility at its March meeting, but the council tabled the vote until it received more clarification on finances and the management of them, including revenues, costs and reserves.

- The council presented Employee Dependent Scholarship Program awards to: Jacob Crandon, son of Lt. Frank Crandon with the Sanibel Police Department; Amber Schweitzer, daughter of Stephen Schweitzer with the Sanibel Public Works Department; Hailey Upchurch, daughter of Jocelyn Upchurch-Hawkins with the Sanibel Finance Department; and Alyssa Vetter, daughter of Holly Vetter with the Sanibel Building Department.

- Stacey Johnston, southwest director of the Florida Association of City Clerks, recognized Sanibel Deputy City Clerk Scotty Lynn Kelly for obtaining her Certified Municipal Clerk designation.

- A representative from Coastal Keepers asked the council to consider regulating the use of plastic straws on the island. He noted that several municipalities have established similar regulations.

Maughan reported that he has asked the city attorney to examine how those areas did it.

"I 100 percent support the straw ban," he said.

"Let's see if we can craft one of our own for the council to look at," he added.



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