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Reconsider seawall vote

February 16, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Presented with two alternatives to traditional concrete slab installation, Cape Coral City Council on Monday nixed one method for seawall repair and replacement, with those opposed saying they didn't like the appearance of "corrugated vinyl" construction.

The problem, besides the obvious aesthetics over engineering determination?

The city has both allowed and permitted the use of non-flat vinyl molds that incorporate poured and reinforced concrete for more than a decade, at least since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

"Corrugated vinyl" seawalls, in fact, dot Cape canals and are a preferred - and cheaper choice - for certain types of repairs as 1) demolition of damaged seawalls may not be needed as both flat and "corrugated" vinyl walls can usually be installed over existing, weakened structures and 2) installation does not require the use of a barge, a costly add-on when a repair or installation needs to be made in a developed neighborhood where a commercial truck can't be pulled into the backyard.

Council is now planning to reconsider its 6-2 vote, perhaps as early as Tuesday when Mayor Joe Coviello is proposing to call a special meeting. (Councilmembers Jessica Cosden and Rick Williams were the dissenting votes on Monday.)

We think reconsideration is a wise idea and agree Council should not only tender more debate but revote on the resolution that gave the OK to the flat or in-line forms while prohibiting the corrugated, or dimensional forms.

Why do we say this?

For hundreds of Cape property owners, the issue of seawall repair is a crisis issue, affecting not only those whose walls were damaged by Hurricane Irma but abutting property owners whose walls are now threatened as a result.

Depending on the amount and type of damage, repair estimates for some are approaching six figures with none of the cost covered by insurance.

In addition, there is no one-size-fits-all-solution. While traditional concrete slab installation remains the least expensive option for new walls, it can be too costly - or a poorer choice from an engineering standpoint - to repair a wall "pulled out" or partially collapsed by Irma.

There, the solution depends not only on cost but on the specific need of each unique site, an engineering decision, if you will, among options - traditional concrete or one of the two forms that allow for a "poured," reinforced wall.

That might be the "flat" vinyl. That might be the dimensional or "corrugated" vinyl.

Either way, all methods meet or exceed engineering standards with the two vinyl options actually having projected lifespans that can exceed that of traditional poured concrete.

So revisit the vote, by all means.

And then go with the engineering on this one: formally allow both vinyl options.

And let these affected property owners get their walls fixed in a way that is cost-effective and suited to their site.

-Breeze editorial

Editor's note: The Cape Coral City Council has issued a special meeting notice and will hold a Special Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20. beginning at 4:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 1015 Cultural Park Boulevard.




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