Old Wooden Bridge at Bowman’s Beach Park Will Be Replaced

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes

The old wooden bridge at Bowman’s Beach Park has carried beach-goers over Clam Bayou and onto the beach for the past four decades.

But the trusty bridge has come to the end of its useful life and will be replaced with plastic lumber and an aluminum frame. These modern materials last longer and are easier to maintain than the wood.

The $720,000 price tag will be paid for by two grants from the Tourism Development Council and the city’s beach parking fund. The bridge will remain open throughout the project.

Council unanimously approved the project at its meeting Tuesday, April 5.

Among other actions taken by council on Tuesday, the remaining COVID restrictions were lifted at all city facilities, including the Sanibel Recreation Center, and a second town hall meeting on strategic plans for the future was scheduled.

Members of the community can provide their input on the vision and mission statements and strategic goals developed in the retreat last month. The town hall meeting will be May 11 at the Sanibel Community House. More details, including the time, will be released by the city at a later date.

Also Tuesday, the council:

– Approved additional funding and a construction contract to complete the Phase 4B septic to sewer expansion, which will connect 21 properties to the system. Funding is provided through state grants and sewer funds.

– Passed a resolution to eliminate positions in the police department and finance department.

The emergency management specialist position, grade 19, was eliminated and replaced with a support services assistant, grade 17, in the police department. The accounts payable and cashiering supervisor position, grade 22, was eliminated and replaced with fiscal assistant, grade 18, in the finance department.

– Awarded a five-year contract to U.S. Water Corporation and Light Tech Electric for wastewater lift station preventative maintenance and repair services.

The city maintains 162 lift stations, including 137 control panels, which transmit raw wastewater to the Donax Water Reclamation Facility. Preventative maintenance and necessary repairs are performed weekly by staff, but the city has struggled to find qualified utility maintenance technicians to fill multiple vacancies.

U.S. Water Corporation was contracted for lift station repairs and Light Tech Electric specializes in electrical and lift station panel repairs. Staff from either of these firms will augment city staff on an as-needed basis. The utility operating budget will cover funding for this work.

– Requested sections of the Land Development Code be reviewed for clarity on definitions and language related to development activities, such as home construction. Permitting requirements for the installation of outdoor air conditioning units and emergency generator installations will also be reviewed to ensure the code is reasonable and the process is expeditious. This will be a collaborative effort between planning commission and staff.

– Moved the draft content-neutral sign ordinance to the May meeting. More work needs to be done before it gets council’s approval. There were questions Tuesday about commercial advertising under vehicle signs and regulations of flags. Changes to the sign ordinance are required under a Supreme Court ruling on content-neutral signs.

– Granted a request from FISH of SANCAP to waive the $475 Community Park rental fee to hold a children’s run there as part of the annual 10K Race 4 FISH in October.

– Granted a request from the Sanibel School Fund to display an electric Moke vehicle from April 5 to May 14 in front of Bank of the Islands on Periwinkle Way. The Moke is one of two raffle prizes raising money for the school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program.

– Granted a request from Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation to have six food trucks at its Beer in the Bushes event April 16 at the Bailey Homestead.

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