December 18, 2018

Lee BOCC to vote on purchase of GS-10 parcel

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

December 17, 2018

By MELISSA BILL ( Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lee County Board of County Commissioners will meet on Tuesday to discuss an agreement to purchase the nearly 600-acre “GS-10” parcel in Lehigh Acres. The acquisition and development of the former mine areas known as Section 10 will be considered by board members during their regularly scheduled meeting.

LA-MSID is a sponsor for the proposed GS-10 Caloosahatchee Cross Link project, which will be a regional, multi-agency initiative to provide water storage and treatment within the Caloosahatchee watershed.

According to Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District Manager David Lindsay, this project is a positive thing for Lehigh because it would create more storage and better water quality. The Section 10 project establishes connections between Lee County-owned lands and LA-MSID drainage system, which has multiple outfalls to the Caloosahatchee.

“During a larger storm, we would be able to divert water flow to either of these major basins and recharge aquifers in areas for those people on wells. But probably the biggest advantage is that it can protect the Caloosahatchee. We can work to hold back some of that fresh water during the rainy summer season and the nitrogen and phosphorus run-offs from getting into our area,” said Lindsay.

Section 10, a 447-acre parcel of land which sits upstream of the district-owned Greenbriar Swamp, is situated between two of Lehigh Acres MSID’s major basins. When completed, the GS-10 project is estimated to provide an additional 1,500 to 2,000 acre-feet per year of stormwater storage, which will reduce fresh water discharges to the estuary during the wet season.

According to Lindsay, Lee County already received a purchase agreement signed by the trustees on the land. If county board members agree on Tuesday, they will have 90 days after signing the contract to get an agreement to the municipal district who can then build and maintain their project on that parcel.

“Lee County will own the land but it will be under the maintenance of LA-MSID for stormwater drainage and flood control and park features,” said Lindsay. “The project plans also include a lot of water quality features where the plants will work to clean up the stormwater.”

If approved, the next step for the municipal district is finding funds for the project.

“We are already working on an application for state appropriations to use towards the project’s design. The application will be presented during the next legislative session. We should know by May 2019 if we will receive the funding,” Lindsay said.

Lee Board of County Commissioners also concluded its discussions with Kitson & Partners concerning the prospective purchase of 1,519 acres of property at Babcock Ranch.

County staff explored the possibility of acquiring the land, which is adjacent to the Telegraph Creek and Bob Janes Preserves and had been nominated for Conservation 20/20.

Babcock Ranch had agreed to preserve 60 percent of the property to be used to improve water quality, create critical wildlife connections and provide open space and allow for public recreation access.

In closing Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais stated that while the county did not find a deal structure that improved upon the win-win scenario already in place with Syd Kitson and his team, Babcock Ranch area residents will benefit from the conceptual development plan proposed by Kitson & Partners.

Other Conservation 20/20 actions from Tuesday’s Board meeting:

Commissioners authorized commencement of acquisition activities for three parcels totaling 800 acres for Conservation 20/20 at the regularly scheduled Board meeting last Tuesday.

The Board of County Commissioners recently has authorized pursuit of 18 active Conservation 20/20 projects.

Seven additional parcels have been evaluated by the Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee and will be reviewed by the Board in January 2019.