Gulf Stream: Voters could decide future of power lines



By Margie Plunkett


Burying Gulf Stream’s overhead power lines would cost roughly $4.6 million and entail six months of pre-construction work and six to eight months of construction,
according to a consultant hired to study the feasibility of the project.


Town commissioners took the next step toward burying electric lines when they directed Danny Brannon, the Brannon & Gillespie LLC consultant who
presented the study results in March, to provide a more detailed report on the
project.


“There’s still some questions that need to be answered, but I think we should move ahead, obtain these answers, look
at the total picture and let the people decide what they want to do,” said
Mayor William Koch Jr. during the March town meeting.


“It’s been a long time in coming,” Vice Mayor Joan Orthwein said.


Brannon studied the area of Gulf Stream that’s east of the Intracoastal Waterway, including about 200 homes and 15 multifamily residences. The area encompasses 29,500 feet of overhead power
lines and 115 Florida Power & Light Co. transformers, according to the
study.


The Wellington consultant recommended that the town hire construction contractors to complete the work rather than FPL to keep control of costs, time and other
factors.


Gulf Stream commissioners would need to consider how to finance the project, including options of taxation and sale of municipal bonds. Another community Brannon worked with
on burying power lines, Jupiter Island, took a referendum to the voters,
borrowed money for the project and planned to pay the loan by taxing residents,
the consultant said.


“We’d probably have to go for a bond issue,” Koch said. “Gulf Stream has only had one bond issue that I could remember. It was very successful — especially for the
people who bought the bonds.”


Bob Ganger, president of the Civic Association — which paid for half the cost of the feasibility study — said he planned to relay the information from the
commission meeting to residents at the association’s next meeting. Most people
are aware that Gulf Stream will see a return on the money in terms of safety
and way of life, he said.


“The people I’ve talked to are very much in favor,” Ganger said. “They’re saying, ‘In concept I’m for it. Give me the details.’ ”


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