Council Sets Start Date for New City Manager

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes

Incoming City Manager Dana Souza will begin Nov. 15. Council approved his employment contract in the Oct. 5 meeting. He will earn $203,000 annually with monthly allowances for housing, cell phone and vehicle in addition to other benefits.

Souza was chosen as the next city manager from more than 90 applicants narrowed to nine candidates then to three finalists. He will bring nearly four decades of experience in local governments with 11 cumulative years in Southwest Florida.

Finance Director Steve Chaipel has been acting city manager since the retirement of Judie Zimomra at the end of September.

Limited Island Senior Programming Relocates

Some of the Island Seniors programs and activities will resume Oct. 12 at the Sanibel Recreation Center, after more than a year since the closure of Center4Life due to the pandemic. Ventilation issues at Center4Life on Library Way has prevented a return to programming in that building.

Sanibel City Council unanimously approved the relocation in its Oct. 5 meeting. Recreation Center Director Trish Phillips said limited programs and activities will be in the Osprey Room, which will be converted into a space for the exclusive use by Island Seniors.

“We will take furniture from Center4Life to make things more familiar and comfortable for the Island Seniors,” said Phillips.

Council also discussed the renovation project at the former Sanibel Captiva Community Bank building that is to become the new Center4Life. Amy Nowacki was selected as the architect in September, but council wants to look at the city’s facilities as a whole before determining the scope of the project.

Vice Mayor Richard Johnson said he doesn’t want to send an unintended message to Island Seniors that council is putting the project on the back burner. “I don’t support that direction, but I do support taking a holistic look at what our space requirements are.”

Sanibel City Hall was designed nearly 50 years ago, when there were very different needs. “I think it’s time to stop making it work and take a look at what we need to do,” said Johnson.

The Center4Life project includes adding a second story to the former bank building which would partially become offices for the island’s affordable housing organization Community Housing & Resources.

Johnson said while the city has an agreement with CHR for 800 square feet of space on city property, it may not have to be in the Library Way building. “It may be there are some different opportunities there,” said Johnson.

Council agreed to hold a workshop or possibly a series of workshops to discuss the city’s facility needs and what should be the scope of the Center4Life project. A date was not set in the meeting although Mayor Holly Smith said she was looking at November for a workshop.

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