Council Likely To Take Action On Police Department Project

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
photos and video by SC Assoc. Publisher Chuck Larsen

Sanibel City Council will continue the discussion on the police department modernization project in the Tuesday, Dec. 7 meeting at 9 a.m. at City Hall, 800 Dunlop Rd. Likely action will be a motion on the preferred option for the project and to move forward with design services.

In a workshop on Oct. 27, council was presented with three options for the police department:

New construction on site adjacent to City Hall (current parking area)
New construction on Dunlop Road (current recycling center shown in video below)
Expansion of the existing police department offices at City Hall

Consensus among council members in October was option two, which proposes a 10,000 square-foot two-story building with 10 parking spaces underneath the structure. It includes two ingress and egress points with one for secured police parking and the other for public parking.

Council approved $427,155 for the modernization project in FY2021 with $403,825 remaining for design services. City staff is looking for council to confirm the preferred option for the project and give authorization to begin design services with the remaining funds.

A report prepared by new City Manager Dana Souza states the available funding will not be sufficient to complete the building and site design through 100 percent construction drawings. He said staff will inform council in future progress reports on how much additional funding will be needed to complete the project design.

Staff “will request a supplemental appropriation for the project from the general fund ending fund balance with $1,425,579 currently available,” Souza’s report states. The police department is primarily funded by the general fund as public safety expenditures, according to Finance Director Steve Chaipel.

Chaipel said in the current economic environment with interest rates at favorable amounts, debt financing of the project would be recommended even though there are costs associated with debt issuance.

If council approves the project, the police department will operate from its existing facility at City Hall throughout the process.

The Center4Life project is also on the agenda Tuesday for discussion. Architect Amy Nowacki was selected in September for the renovation design of the former Sanibel Captiva Community Bank building on Library Way, which will be the new Center4Life home.

Center4Life has been closed since the start of the pandemic. In October, council unanimously approved the relocation of some Island Seniors programs to the Sanibel Recreation Center, after ventilation issues prevented a return to the Center4Life building.

In other agenda items:

Sanibel City Attorney John Agnew will give a legal summary of a special Florida legislative session that ended last week. The state’s lawmakers returned to Tallahassee ahead of the annual legislative session in January to vote on several bills dealing with mask and vaccine mandates.

Agnew’s summary is part of the COVID-19 update that includes a revisit on the mask mandate within city-owned buildings. The Florida Department of Health shows the COVID infection rate in Lee County the week of Nov. 19 to Nov. 25 was 3.1 percent or 36.7 new cases per 100,000 people in the county. That is within the Center for Disease Control’s defined “moderate” transmission threshold.

Souza will recommend council discontinue the current mask mandate in city-owned buildings based on the CDC’s “case rate metric” and allow him to reestablish it should the county reach CDC’s “substantial” transmission threshold of 50 cases (minimum) per 100,000 population over a seven-day period or the positivity rate exceeds 5 percent over that same time period.

Other items under the COVID update are outdoor displays of merchandise and a review of the policy for special event permits. It is likely to revert to pre-pandemic procedure of the city manager approving or denying special event permit applications unless the proposed dates for new events are between Nov. 15 and Easter, which will require city council review and approval.

Comments (1)

  1. Do not discontinue the mask mandate for city owned or occupied properties!! Protect the majority of the Islands population that are Seniors.

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