The Village of Estero’s Utilities Expansion Program Progresses Slowly

Part 4: Timing and Costs

 The Village of Estero and Engage Estero fully understand the residents’ concerns in the communities, who eagerly await start and completion dates for converting their septic tanks to main sewers. The Village has provided an estimate/best guess of the cost to the homeowner for “their share” of the Village Utilities Expansion Program.

We have received a number of communications from those affected expressing their concerns and are taking these concerns seriously. Area realtors have also voiced their concerns from home/lot owners because of the difficulties the issues have caused in their ability to sell their property.

It appears that different costs will be involved depending on the location of the owner’s property. Engage Estero is unaware of how the Village Public Works and Contracting Departments have determined which community will receive the following:

  1. Total funding in grants
  2. Village funds
  3. A combination of both.

It is crucial to emphasize that the Village Council’s briefing at a May 15th, 2024, workshop was a preliminary plan, and your input is highly valued. While it is logical that this decision on which communities and amounts to fund would be a Village Council decision, we are confident that it will be meticulously and comprehensively explained to all involved.

The chart identifying the management and oversight of the Village Utilities Expansion Program is included in Appendix 1.


Utilities Expansion Program Areas and Stages

The schedule for the various stages of the Village Utilities Expansion Program is steadily becoming clearer as the Village continues to work through issues. This article will use the term “stages” to group areas or communities constructed under a single effort. We will refrain from using the term phases, as each stage identifies phases. Currently, there are “First Stage” and “Future Stages”. The long-term schedule has not been defined yet, but we are making significant progress. Below are the stages and areas considered for the Village Utility Expansion Program. 

Table 1: Utilities Expansion Program Stages

The highlighted areas (first three in the above table) are communities with a Package Plant, also known as a Package Wastewater Treatment Plant. This prefabricated system uses biological extended aeration to treat wastewater from individual properties or small communities. These communities are significantly less costly to convert to public utilities, as they have infrastructure connected to each lot.

Upon completion of the connection to the Lee County Utilities, the existing Package Wastewater Treatment Plants are to be decommissioned and removed, and the percolation ponds eliminated. The maps in Appendix 2 highlight the communities considered for the Utilities Expansion Program and are color-coded for stages.

Utilities Expansion Program Construction Strategy

The first stage of the Utilities Expansion Program will be contracted out to complete all parts of the project. The Village of Estero has advertised a Request for Proposal. It is seeking proposals from interested and qualified firms for construction manager at-risk services for the construction of sanitary sewer and potable water services for properties currently served by onsite sewage disposal systems (septic tanks/drain fields) and private potable wells. For this proposal, the Utilities Expansion Program is for the following:

  • Package Wastewater Treatment Plant Conversions (three locations)
  • Broadway Avenue West (Phases A, B, & C)
  • Broadway Avenue East (Area 2)

The selected Construction Management at Risk firm will be responsible for, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Quality engineering/constructability review of the project
  • Construction of the projects
  • Construction Engineering Inspection (CEI) services (option to serve as the CEI)
  • Remaining permitting (within the scope of the selected construction contractor)
  • Coordinating with the design consultants for their work as Engineer of Record services, progress payments, etc.
  • Project closeouts

There is uncertainty until the Construction Management at Risk contractor is selected and the contract is awarded. The Village anticipates construction in two phases (Preconstruction Phase and Construction Phase). The Village may benefit if the construction could be divided into phasing components in addition to any phasing indicated in the advertised Request for Proposal.

Utilities Expansion Program Timing

Village leadership has determined that contracting the management and construction of the Utilities Expansion Program is the best strategy for this task. This process involves the Village advertising the Request for Proposal, entertaining pre-proposal meetings and questions, receiving proposals, and then selecting the most appropriate contractor using the following ranking:

Selection Criteria – The Village selection committee will rank each firm based on the following criteria. Criteria rates are in parentheses.

  • Company and Staff Qualifications (30%)
  • Project Experience (30%)
  • Project Approach /Methodology (20%)
  • References (20%)

Table 2 below, “Utilities Expansion Program Timing,” details the milestones and dates of this contracting effort.

Table 2: Utilities Expansion Program Timing

Request for Proposal advertised for Construction Manager at Risk Issue Date: March 26, 2024
Non-Mandatory Pre-Proposal Meeting Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at 2:00 pm
Deadline for Submission of Questions Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at 2:00 pm
Village’s Final Posting of any Addenda Friday, April 26, 2024, by 2:00 pm
Proposal Submission Deadline Tuesday, May 7, 2024, by 2:00 pm
Opening of Proposals Proposal Submission Date, at 2:01 pm
Contract Award (approved by the Village Council)

Not Later Than 6 June 2024

The agency provides notice of an intended decision or until 30 days after opening the bids, proposals, or final replies, whichever is earlier.

Notice to Proceed:


No Later Than contract award + thirty (30) days

No Later Than 5 August 2024

A Notice to Proceed may be given within thirty (30) days after the Agreement’s effective date. The contractor shall perform the work on the date specified in the Notice to Proceed, but no effort shall be accomplished at the site before the notice issuance.


Currently, the Village Contracting and Public Works staff are in the selection stage of the contracting process. At the time the proposals were opened, only one proposal was submitted. The Village Utilities Expansion Program Request for Proposal, emailed by Village staff, was sent to 15 contractors with the anticipation that most would submit bids. As the Village implements a new Enterprise Resource Planning system, we are hopeful any Village Request for Proposal will reach a wider audience!

The Public Opening Attestation showing the one submitted proposal and company is included in Appendix 3.

With only one proposal submitted, Village residents might think the Village would restart the process with a different tactic, hedging on the submittal of three or more proposals. But that is not the case when explained by the Village Contracting Staff, who stated the following:

“… We will try to negotiate an acceptable contract with Wright Construction. We are not required to re-advertise and want to keep the project moving. I invited 15 contractors to participate, and the solicitation was open and posted on the Village website.”

Hopefully, this is good news, and the Utilities Expansion Program can go forward on its current schedule. This schedule will have a Notice to Proceed for the contractor in August 2024. Reviewing the winning contract phasing and schedule will hopefully provide a project completion date. Engage Estero knows Estero residents impacted by Hurricane Ian highly anticipate “the first shovel in the ground” and project commissioning and completion! 

Utility Expansion Program Impact on Property Owners

Now that the strategy and timing are known for the Utilities Expansion Program, what is the impact on Village property owners? Most property owners agree removing septic systems near waterways and installing public utilities will aid in the rejuvenation and reduce contamination of the Estero River. This rejuvenation comes at a hefty cost to property owners, especially individual properties not on a Package Plant.

Table 3 below outlines the estimated cost to each property owner based on the Village Fiscal Year 2024-2025 Capital Improvement Plan. The column that most interests and impacts property owners is “Cost Property Assessment”, the estimated dollar amount the Village of Estero will assess each property owner. The assessment is on the property owner’s tax bill for either immediate payment or assessed on their property taxes paid over a specified duration (years) with a fixed interest rate.

The other column that will interest property owners is “Cost Total Property,” which is the property assessment plus Lee County Utilities connection and meter fees for each property. The “Cost Total Property” does not include any costs the property owner will incur for permits and contracting a licensed plumbing company to connect the home to the tap/street. Depending on distance and complexity, this could be $3K – $5K per property.

Reviewing the tables below, we noticed that not all property owners will react or respond similarly. The assessments for the Utilities Expansion Program range from zero dollars (fully funded) to ~$69K, not including Lee County Utilities fees and other costs. Also, you can see that the Village of Estero is committing zero dollars for these infrastructure upgrades and rejuvenating the Estero River for certain areas. This range of assessments for property owners is difficult to comprehend and will likely lead to property owners contacting their Village of Estero Council Member for further explanation.

Table 3: UEP Costs/Funding

While all indications from Village officials indicate that hooking up to the Lee County Utilities sanitary sewer and potable water for residents is mandatory, Engage Estero would expect a Village Council resolution requiring connection once available. Engage Estero is unaware of any time requirement (e.g., 90 days or 120 days) to connect.

The Village Development Department has inserted language in development orders requiring connection for any commercial development efforts when sanitary sewer and potable water are available:

“8. Utilities – Sewer

This development must connect to sanitary sewer service as soon as service is available, as the Village Land Development Code requires. The owner or assign of the property will be subject to any special assessment district or similar mechanism for the provision of central sewer identified by the Village or sewer provider.”

Village Land Development Code, Section 5-10, B, 2

“It is agreed that the private system approved under subsection one above shall be removed or abated, and connection to the utility shall be made within 90 days from the date the utility provides written notice to the property owner that sanitary sewer service is installed in a public right-of-way or easement adjacent to any portion of the property at the boundary of the development, is available for connection, and that connection is mandatory.”

Engage Estero appreciates that residents will have many questions, and there are not many detailed answers now. However, as more information becomes available, Engage Estero will provide further updates.

(The information in this article was researched by Mark Novitski and James Root, Consultants to Engage Estero and Allan Bowditch Chief Communications Officer.)


Appendix 1 – Management and Oversight of the Utilities Expansion Program 

Appendix 2 – Utilities Expansion Program Communities

Appendix 3 – Public Opening



Appendix 4 – Column Description for Utilities Expansion Program Costs/Funding

Table Column Description
Current Budgeted Construction Cost From FY 2024-2025 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
Funding Grant From FY 2024-2025, CIP does not identify specific grants.
Funding Property Assessment Current Budgeted Construction Cost – Funding Grant
Funding Village Funds committed by the Village of Estero for UEP efforts
Lots Number of properties in the area
Cost Const Per Lot Current Budgeted Construction Cost / Lots
Cost Property Assmt Funding Property Assessment / Lots
Fees Inc Water Estimated LCU water & sewer connection & meter fees
Cost Total Property Cost Property Assessment + Fees Inc Water



Four Part Series

Background and History
Cost, CIP, and Grants
Schedule - Planned and Actual

The information in this article was researched by Mark Novitski and James Root, Consultants to Engage Estero and Allan Bowditch Chief Communications Officer.

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