Council moves to accept $840,000 in public works grants for Marco Island

At its meeting Monday, Marco Island City Council and Police Chief Don Hunter recognize Robert Fowler for his volunteer service to the Police Department. Fowler will be leaving his volunteer position for other pursuits. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

At its meeting Monday, Marco Island City Council and Police Chief Don Hunter recognize Robert Fowler for his volunteer service to the Police Department. Fowler will be leaving his volunteer position for other pursuits. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Firefighter /EMS Chris Bowden, one of Marco Island's Phoenix Award recipients, gives a hug to a city employee who was saved by local paramedics. Marco Island City Council honored all Phoenix Award recipients from the city's police, fire and EMS at its Monday meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

Firefighter /EMS Chris Bowden, one of Marco Island's Phoenix Award recipients, gives a hug to a city employee who was saved by local paramedics. Marco Island City Council honored all Phoenix Award recipients from the city's police, fire and EMS at its Monday meeting. Cheryl Ferrara / Eagle Correspondent

— Monday was a good night for Tim Pinter, Marco Island’s public works director.

After a brief discussion, city councilors unanimously authorized the city manager to accept two grants totaling $840,000 from South Florida Water Management District. The grants will be matched with city money to fund projects in 2012. The management district will reimburse the city 50-percent of total expenditures up to the grants amounts.

The two grants are not the city’s first from the management district. In the past seven years, the city has accepted more than $13.6 million for public works from South Florida Water Management District.

The first grant of $490,000 will be applied to Phase 4 of the reclaimed water production plant. Money for the facility will boost capacity through construction of an injection well sump and equalization storage tank that will be converted from the existing potable water tank.

The second grant of $350,000 will fund three storm water system improvements. The first will affect drainage in 10 city areas including eight intersections where drainage is sub-par. Current structures with be replaced or upgraded to improve storm water collection.

The second project affects critical evacuation areas on North Collier Boulevard, leading to the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge. In heavy rains, flooding could potentially cause road closures. With the current undersized drainage system, even without a major category storm, deepening water could prohibit emergency vehicle access.

The area between the bridge and Buttonwood Court will be upgraded by Florida’s Department of Transportation as part of the bridge’s new span project. Mitigation between Buttonwood Court and Barfield Drive will fall to the city. Approximately $150,000 of the grant money will be allocated to correcting Collier Boulevard’s drainage inadequacies.

Insufficient drainage at the south end of the island on Swallow Avenue has historically caused road closures in heavy rains. In 2011, the city replaced existing older drain pipes with two 60-inch discharges, but without expanding the area’s collection system, drainage remained problematic. With the help of grant money, the city will be able to redesign and reconstruct a portion of the collection system aiding storm water removal.

Total for the three drainage projects with grant and city funds is estimated at $1.3 million.

Councilors asked if accepting the management district’s grants would inhibit their ability to deny funding any of the projects. Pinter explained these grants are available without such requirements.

“These three projects are ‘use it or lose it,’” Pinter said. “If we don’t use the grant money, it remains with the grantor because we are only paid at end of the project.”

City Attorney Burt Saunders confirmed that council would not be required to fund the projects if they agreed to accept the grants.

“There’s nothing here that would penalize council for rejecting the grant money,” he said.

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