Marco Island’s sewer program has found its most high-profile holdout: former NFL all-star kicker Mike Vanderjagt.
Construction outside Vanderjagt’s island home in the first section of the city’s seven-year $100 million project was completed last December. City ordinance and state law requires homeowners to connect to the sewer system within one year of a notice of availability.
That deadline is Jan. 8 and city officials confirmed last week they would begin code enforcement action against Vanderjagt and the 25 other unconnected homeowners once the date passed.
Violators could be subject to a maximum $500 a day fine from the city, a $500 a day fine from the state and a second-degree misdemeanor.
Vanderjagt’s wife, Janalyn, said she had no idea any sewer construction had occurred outside her home and that there was a deadline to connect until she was informed by the Daily News.
“We have every intention of connecting by the 8th,” Janalyn Vanderjagt said in a telephone interview. “It was more confusion about what was going on, hearing different things and not receiving the notices.”
The Vanderjagts, Janalyn said, spent much of the past year at their home in Canada — where Mike was born — and didn’t have their mail forwarded from their Marco residence. According to county records, they’ve owned that home since 2004.
Janalyn added that relatives were living in the Vanderjagts’ house and working in the island bar the family co-owns with Immokalee-native and NFL star Edgerrin James, Vandy’s With An Edge.
Marco Island city spokeswoman Lisa Douglass said the city had sent four separate letters so far to each of the 241 island homeowners required to connect by Jan. 8.
“We’ve overmailed to these folks,” Douglass said.
“Unfortunately, we’re at the mercy of someone who may or may not open their mail,” she added.
But none of the correspondence was sent via registered mail, a gesture Janalyn said she would have appreciated.
“If they would have sent these by registered mail, it would have been much better for us and I’m sure for other people who don’t live there full time,” she said.
Douglass said the next notice to homeowners would be registered.
None of the homeowners, including the Vanderjagts, will be treated any differently in the code enforcement process, City Public Works Director Rony Joel said.
“Not unless he gives me some football tickets,” Joel joked.
A city contractor, Fort Myers-based Rohaley & Sons, decommissioned homeowner’s septic tanks and connected them to the sewer system for around $1,670 earlier this year. But Yvonne Rohaley, a vice president at the company, said it would be impossible to estimate the cost for any single home to connect because variables like landscaping differ depending on the site.
These fees are in addition to the city’s sewer assessment — which averages around $20,000 per home — that will begin to go on tax rolls this year.
Mike Vanderjagt, 37, last kicked in the NFL during the 2006 season, spending half the year with the Dallas Cowboys after signing a contract that included a $2.5 million signing bonus. He’s best known for his eight seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and represented the team in the NFL’s all-star game, the Pro Bowl, in 2004.
Vanderjagt still holds records as the league’s most accurate kicker and for the longest streak of consecutive field goals.
The Vanderjagts are beginning to spend more time on the island, Janalyn said. Mike has even joined the city’s softball league. (His team is 2-2 so far this season).
Despite vowing to comply with the city’s sewer mandate, Janalyn said it isn’t one of her primary concerns.
“I have a lot more things going on my life than some sewer system,” she said.