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District to conduct FGUA and bridge studies

March 6, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services and Improvement District has approved two studies to assess local water services and bridge conditions,

The actions came during the district's regular monthly board meeting on Feb. 25.

District Manager David Lindsay went over the two separate studies and the district's need to gain a better understanding of the costs and steps necessary in both processes.

"The Florida Governmental Utility Authority study will give the district individual steps and costs in the process, should we proceed to agreement and referendum and also the ultimate purchase," Lindsay said.

According to Lindsay, the FGUA study would cost $10,000 and take approximately three months to complete.

Emergency Operations Director and Coordinator Michael Welch voiced some concern about the FGUA study.

"This is an issue that's coming up very quickly with Lehigh's expansion. I think it's imperative that we get an unbiased initial study, with facts. This is a very complicated matter that cannot be resolved in a few months," said Welch.

Lindsay assured board members that the report would be done with diligence.

"That's why we are hiring independent, outside consultants. We will have a bond, rate and financial consulting company working on the study. It will also require 30 hours of staff time. The study can provide information for the board to use either now or in the future," Lindsay said.

Chair Mike Bonacolta asked that the district host open, in-house workshops for the public to attend, so that residents are involved and informed in the process.

The board unanimously passed the FGUA preliminary study.

District commissioners also approved a comprehensive bridge study. Lindsay spoke about the need for the study, especially due to a recent structural failure on a walk-bridge over Richmond Avenue.

"We will be putting together a spreadsheet that will look at each bridge and the need to either replace or repair," said Lindsay.

The district received quotes from contractors,. One was for $25,000 which would include a study of 22 bridges that sit within the district's boundaries.

According to Welch, this is a core function of the districts.

"If one of these bridges goes out, we will be out on the line. This is part of our responsibly to the community," said Welch. "We will be fulfilling our legal and judicial responsibility."

The bridge study motion carried following a short discussion on current insurance coverages.

Prior to the regular meeting, residents spoke to the board and asked for commissioners to vote in favor of both the FGUA study and bridge study.

Another resident seconded the opinion and asked that the municipal district pursue the FGUA study.

"This study is imperative and an important first step. We are going to need to have the water and sewer built out at some point," said Mohamed Yasin.

Under action agenda items, Purvis, Gray & Company presented LA-MSID's 2017-2018 annual audit and praised the municipal services own accounting staff for their efforts especially with an internal transition and new accounting staff members.

Welch asked for clarification on their budget and any debts.

"The audit report was clean and LA-MSID showed in a very healthy financial standing for a district its size," said Purvis Account Manager Kathryn Eno.

Another action agenda item discussed was the Memorandum of Understanding for Lee County's GS-10 Project in Lehigh Acres.

"This is a significant intra-local agreement and time is of the essence. We have not finalized the memorandum yet. Still working out the additional language, said District Attorney Maggie Mooney.

The district has until March 18, when the county closes on the property's purchase.

"Since there is such a tight deadline, we will need to have a special meeting prior to the 18th," said Mooney.

Bonacolta suggested Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. The board motioned and approved to set a special meeting prior to the closing date, but the date is still to be determined.

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District will hold its next meeting on March 18 at 6 p.m. at the LA-MSID, at 601 East County Lane. For information, visit the LA-MSID online at



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