The Collier County Board of County Commissioners meeting held Tuesday, April 13, revisited previous items while addressing new ones.
Danette Kinaszczuk, Pollution Control Manager, provided an update on the March 26 Piney Point wastewater leak. Uncontrolled discharges into Tampa Bay occurred for nine days, equating to a total of 215 million gallons. The measures taken to contain the flow have been controlled discharges and ongoing repairs to the containment area. As experts expected, an algae bloom at the Piney Point outflow was detected on April 8 by NOAA Satellite Imagery. The state as well as environmental and partner agencies are taking water quality samples.
Will this cause a bad red tide bloom in Collier County? Kinaszczuk said “we don’t know”. The near shore currents that typically move water from the Tampa Bay area south have actually been moving north since early April because of the winds. A change in the wind direction will change the water currents so it can’t be known if, or when, a nutrient bloom would reach our beaches or if red tide will be here to feed on the bloom. Kinaszczuk says “the best thing we can do is reduce our own nutrient output like over-irrigating, keep vegetation out of the stormwater management system, do more street cleaning and follow the fertilizer ordinance.”
Because Collier County doesn’t have any phosphorus plants, nor are we within the conceptual mineable limits of the state for one, this type of wastewater leak won’t happen here.
If you’ve been to the intersection of Davis and Santa Barbara Boulevard you can’t help but notice the dust producing rock crushing activity that has been happening. Jack McKenna, County Engineer, said that the property must be raised to meet the minimum flood elevation and the developer is using concrete, an acceptable medium, to achieve that height. The onsite crushing is a cost saving measure and should be completed within five months. Commissioner Saunders asks if they can do better with the fencing around the property and the developer responded that they will be installing a taller chain link fence to screen the work from the public. The developer is also working with the Boys and Girls Club next door to keep the dust from impacting the children. Mike Ossorio, Director of Code Enforcement, says while the site has been given notices for violations, they have been fixed. Code enforcement monitors the site multiple times a week.
The Board approved development of the East Naples Community Park Welcome Center. The new welcome center will house a pro-shop, locker rooms, storage, offices, an open patio/eatery area with shade structures and lots of restrooms. The project has been expedited and hopes to be completed within a year. Commissioner Saunders mentions that former District One Commissioner, Donna Fiala, had asked the Board to consider putting up structures in East Naples Community Park and Donna Fiala Eagle Community Park so that the children can shelter while at the park. County Manager is happy to outline options in advance of the upcoming budget.
The Board also accepted a report on the 2021 redistricting schedule. Jeremy Frantz, Planning Manager, explains that the Board can revise the commission districts every 10 years due to growth within the community. What Mr. Frantz was presenting was the schedule and process staff will be following before the final suggested changes are presented to the Board.
The philosophy behind redistricting is that projected growth in the county is not going to be uniform throughout the districts and the overall population of each district should be as similar as possible. Staff will mimic the same meetings and public vetting as they did in 2011 with the goal to keep the population between districts similar and as compact and regularly shaped as feasible. With the U.S. Census Bureau delaying their results until August, Staff reorganized the schedule so they would still be able to get this done by the end of the year. They have already met with the Supervisor of Elections. Next up are meetings with the School District Board, Clerk of Court, County Attorney’s Office, County Manager’s Office, and the Growth Management Department. Staff hopes to have proposed maps with estimated populations in September. An interesting piece of Florida voting legislation is being considered that is tied to redistricting and could have an impact on the Commissioners terms. In prior years, a commissioner was able to remain in office for their full four-year term even if the boundaries in their district changed. The new legislation would require that all county commissioners who were elected in districts that are revised every 10 years will have run for election again in 2022, regardless of when they were voted into office.
Bill Mullens, Government Affairs Manager, has updated information on the Florida House and Senate bills regarding the Big Cypress Basin project. The House incorporated two of the three Board requested amendments while the Florida Senate approved all three Board requested amendments. If the House bill moves forward, it is expected that the Senate will also be approved. If the bills go through, there will be ample time for the Big Cypress Basin Board and District Board to work out the intricacies. Commissioner McDaniel made a motion to support the Senate Bill. It was seconded by Commissioner Saunders and approved unanimously. Commissioner Saunders thanks Senator Passidomo and Senator Rodrigues for helping to make this happen.