ISLAMORADA -- Long awaited? For sure. Long feared? Probably.
But like it or not, the village expects to finally begin work on the Islamorada-wide sewer system next week.
"We just had to wait to get all our insurance and bonds in place," said Wes Self, program manager for village sewer contractor Reynolds Water Islamorada. "That was the last thing we had to wait for before our Notice to Proceed."
Reynolds got that notice on Sept. 28. They'll begin the $90.9 million project with repair work in north Plantation Key's Plantation Key Colony neighborhood, where sewer lines installed by the village in 2006 need to replaced with wider lines to ensure more efficient operations.
At the same time, the company will begin laying the sewer lines in middle Plantation Key.
"That's progress and that's what we're after," Mayor Ken Philipson said of the project starting.
But the excitement isn't universal, even among those councilmen who voted for the sewer project.
"It's a big moment that we're moving it forward. It's also a big moment because it means the expenses are going to start. So, it's good and bad," said Councilman Michael Reckwerdt, whose 8 ¬½-year council tenure will conclude next month.
In preparation for the start of the sewer work, Reynolds and the village have scheduled informational meetings this month for residents of Plantation Key Colony and middle Plantation Key.
The Plantation Key Colony meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 in the Founders Park Community Center, mile marker 87, bayside. The middle Plantation Key meeting will be held at the same time and place the following day.
The village has also tentatively set the sewer system ground-breaking ceremony for 11 a.m. Oct. 30 at Village Hall.
All told, the sewer project is expected to cost $113 million. The price includes the Reynolds contract, payments to engineering watchdog firm Wade Trim and the cost of hooking into the mile marker 100.5 wastewater plant owned by the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District.
Under the state sewer mandate for Islamorada and the rest of the Florida Keys, the sewer system must be complete by the end of 2015.
"The work for the council is just starting," Philipson said. "That's raising money."