By Steve Plunkett
Gulf Stream’s long-awaited project to rid the town of telephone wires and poles is stumbling toward the finish line.
“I’m happy to say that AT&T has completed their — what they describe in their industry as — wrecking their old infrastructure,” Town Manager Greg Dunham told town commissioners on March 12.
Dunham said one house on Polo Drive still needed new conduit installed, which he expected would happen before the end of the month.
“That means everyone else has been connected,” he said.
Voters approved the plan in a referendum on Feb. 7, 2011, and were originally told the work would be done by fall 2012. Single-family homes were billed $15,200 while condo owners paid $8,500.
The latest delay popped up last May when AT&T walked off the job in a contract dispute. The phone company wanted $1.2 million to complete the work; the town said it owed only $400,000.
Gulf Stream filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in June. After going through mediation, both sides agreed in January to a payment of $695,000.
Cable TV provider Comcast told Dunham it will wreck its remaining infrastructure in the first two weeks of April. Customers who have not scheduled appointments to connect to the new system will lose programming then.
Dunham has been updating Florida Power & Light to make sure its teams are ready to swoop in.
“We’re hopeful,” Mayor Scott Morgan said, “that sometime in May — or June at the latest — that the poles should be removed and all lines removed.”
Also at the meeting, commissioners gave their first of two approvals for land-use and zoning changes for the Bluewater Cove addition to Place Au Soleil. The subdivision’s 14 new single-family homes will generate $140,000 in town property taxes; the Gulf Stream Golf Club, which currently owns the acreage, pays only $471 a year.
Cary Glickstein, president of Ironstone Development Inc., told commissioners he was unable to incorporate the 2900 Avenue Au Soleil parcel, which separates the new subdivision from the rest of Place Au Soleil, into his plans.
“Both transactional uncertainties and engineering complexities were unfortunately too much to overcome,” he said.
Assistant Town Attorney Trey Nazzaro said Glickstein and the town had been discussing his proposals for “well over a year, maybe closer to two years.”
The original pitch was for multifamily townhomes, Nazzaro said. Glickstein’s team said the town’s code would have permitted 22 units on the new street instead of the now-planned 14.
In other business, commissioners:
• Denied a request from James Cacioppo for permission to install a four-post boat lift 16.5 feet closer to his southern lot line. The resident had argued the required placement nearer the center of the property spoiled his view of the canal.
William Weiss, his neighbor to the south, wrote to commissioners “to express in the strongest terms possible” his objection to Cacioppo’s request.
Cacioppo previously ruffled feathers along Polo Drive by taking more than three years to build his house.
• Unanimously approved a resolution condemning bills in Tallahassee that would preempt a local government’s ability to enforce building design elements such as exterior color and architectural styling of windows on homes.
“You can see for a town like Gulf Stream, this would really gut our code,” Dunham said. “This would really strike at the heart of why Gulf Stream is so beautiful.” Ú