Property owners who want to know more about the next phase of the city of Cape Coral's Utility Expansion Project can get many of their questions answered online, thanks to a new informational Web site devoted to the Southwest 6 & 7 component of the near billion dollar undertaking.
The site, at www.sw6and7uep.com, includes project history, overview and benefits; maps; public hearing and construction dates; FAQs and more.
It was developed by Tetra Tech Inc., the engineering firm that will oversee the project, in conjunction with the city of Cape Coral to keep property owners, especially those in the upcoming expansion area, informed. Spiro & Associates created the site and will update it with new information as it becomes available. The Web site component was built into the oversight contract.
"What it is is transparency," said Councilmember Marty McClain, District 1.
"We're trying to make it as clear as we can for the public - the timelines, the time frames; we don't want people coming in and saying they didn't get it. It's so people can keep up. That was the intent, I'm sure."
The Web site is part of an on-going philosophy to share more information and make it readily available, McClain said.
"We've tried very, very diligently for information to get out on the web site or a link to it.We want to make sure everything we do is clear. I think we've done a darn good job so far, to give them credit," he added.
The expansion of water, sewer and irrigation water services into Southwest 6 & 7 was approved by city council in February of 2012 with construction now set to begin in August.
The project, which also will include road and drainage improvements, will affect 6,128 properties in a four-square mile area in southwest Cape Coral.
The area is south of Pine Island Road, bounded by Southwest 6th Avenue, Skyline Boulevard, Gleason Parkway, Surfside Boulevard and Pine Island Road. Approximately 54 percent of the affected parcels are developed, the new Web site states.
Both developed and undeveloped properties will be assessed to pay for the project.
Those costs have yet to be determined. The city is still receiving bids and working with the numbers as not all costs, for example stormwater improvements, are assessed to property owners, said city spokesperson Connie Barron on Tuesday.
"Southwest 6& 7 have12 construction areas and seven separate construction contracts for the work," Barron said.
Five of the seven bids were in Tuesday, with one that was due Wednesday and the last due next week.
"That's the seventh and final bid," she said. "And then finance gets to pull all the numbers together and all the components and money spent last go around."
In 2009, before council voted to halt the expansion into the same neighborhoods, the tally was around $20,000 per standard building site - $10,792 in assessments to pay for pipes and other infrastructure, plus another $6,750 in impact fees for the "impact" of new customers on the city's water and sewer plants. Homeowners converting from well and septic also face additional costs for hookup to the system and disconnecting the septic system.
Whether the assessment numbers comes in lower, higher, or about the same will depend on how the various cost components fall this time around.
"The good news is we did get those state revolving funds that have a very, very low interest rate," Barron said. "We just have to wait until we get all the numbers and they are put in the proper columns."
City council will hold a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. on July 24 to consider a resolution that will include the estimated cost this go-around, determine how property owners will be assessed and set a date for the mailing of assessment notices to affected property owners. Those property owners were mailed a postcard notice of the hearing on June 29.