Corkscrew Island Neighborhood Association October 15, 2013 ________________________________________________________
A meeting of the Corkscrew Island Neighborhood Association (CINA) took place at the Corkscrew Sanctuary meeting room on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. Seventeen people attended, including several new members who attended as a result of a snail mailing to all owner/residents. Also in attendance was Christian Spilker and Tom Jones from Collier Enterprises; and Harry Sells and Michelle Arnold from Collier County, Alternative Transportation Department. Doug Wilson videotaped the Collier Enterprises presenters. President Bill McDaniel opened the meeting at 7:10 pm with the pledge of allegiance and then introduced Christian Spilker and Tom Jones of Collier Enterprises.
Collier Enterprises on Oil Drilling Christian Spilker, is an Environmental Scientist by training, is in charge of ranch, oil and gas. We co-manage minerals Collier County owns. Barron Collier never saw oil himself but said, “Don’t sell mineral rights because I smell oil.” Our company has been in the oil business since 1943 and increased over the last 7 years. We had a rig just north of here from DNA Hughes, a Texas company. Three hundred wells have been drilled in this region. These wells go horizontal, not just vertical. They have sensors that can sense where to turn horizontal. We've been drilling wells for years.
Tom Jones works for Collier Enterprises. One asset they couldn’t divide was oil rights. He has been managing for 25 years. The first discovery well was in Sunniland on the Collier County line. There is a field at Bear Island at Sunniland, a field at Felda. The Corkscrew field near here has been operating for years. Previously to this, Hogan Island near here has been operating for years. It was the first horizontal well drilled in 1990-91.
Question: Please comment on the Jim Nance meeting where protesters dominated. Answer: We’ve had wells producing for 70 years. But technology has increased along with regulations. The oil is 12,000 feet down, 2.5 miles deep. Water level is at a much higher level so it can’t hurt the water. A pump is put down to pump it to the surface. When the pump stops, oil slows down to 8,000 feet. When oil matures it turns to natural gas. Oil is young. We have to pump it. There are 5 layers between the water table and the oil. There’s no pressure that explodes oil up. It won’t happen like in the Gulf spill. (Charts were displayed showing the drilling process.)
Question: Another concern at the Nance Meeting was the pipes fracturing. Answer: The concern was hydrogen sulfide. We’ve never run into hydrogen sulfide. But, we have an evacuation plan as a precaution. I understand the general feeling. If I got a letter saying, “This is our evacuation plan,” I'd be upset too. There was no information. People were not prepared. The state mandates monitoring by a third contractor at the well site to watch safety equipment. They use monitors. OSHA doesn’t require any special monitors. If the sensors ran into a dangerous situation an alarm would go off and shut the well down. The crew are roughnecks very well trained and aware of safety procedures.
Question: What about traffic, trucks rolling through neighborhoods? Answer: When a rig is brought in it takes a lot of trucks, 6 or 7 trucks. Our average well produces a good 200 barrels a day. A truck can take (?) barrels and not every day, about 1400 barrels a week. There’s an oil well in the middle of my tomato field and there are more tomato trucks going in and out than oil trucks. The closest neighbors are a quarter of a mile away from the oil pad.
Question: How about risk of explosion? Answer: No gas, no explosion. It's a non-pressurized system. BP had pressurized gas. Since the ‘40’s we’ve had no explosion. There are 25 producing wells in Collier County out of 300 wells drilled.
Question: What about fracking? Answer: We don’t frack. A rubble zone requires fracking. The geology here doesn’t lend to fracking.
Question: What about the aquifer? Answer: There is another layer of oil a couple hundred feet more shallow. Other areas are 4,000 feet. You see these little jack pumps in peoples’ yards. Our oil is deeper. The Gulf oil is very deep with lots of pressure so it’s hard to compare. What created oil here is organic material. A lagoon trapped algae and organic matter millions of years ago. It’s trapped. In the Gulf it was a reef that fell off. They’re going after Jurassic oil, 12,000 feet deep, 2.5 miles deep. A big rig is only here for 90 days. The jack pumps are like your water pump/well. The big rig is too expensive to keep at one location. We move it around.
Question: Where does the permitting stand right now? Answer: We received permits from the state a month ago. One salt water permit is still open. At the rubble zone in Sunniland you pump up a lot of water, brine, sewage. They showed pictures of a rig and three small pumps at Raccoon Point. We don’t own all the minerals. Some people have negotiated leases. There are jobs. Sixty,70 people, welders, crawling all over. There are jobs. The state receives severance pay. We produce 2500 to 3000 barrels a day. Used to produce 14,000 barrels a day. The big demand is skilled labor, welders, machinists. They come in and drill a few exploratory wells to see if it produces. They drill three wells to see if there’s oil.
Where is the oil stored that is pumped? There are storage tanks. From there it gets pumped onto trucks. We don’t have the potential for a big spill. There’s a berm around it so it’s self-contained.
Maureen said she attended a conference in Tampa and I told someone about oil here in Naples. He couldn’t remember any spills down here. No environment problems.
Question: Why drill here in Southwest Florida? Why not the middle and north Florida? Answer: 20 million barrels of oil in the last 7 years in South Florida. They do drill in Central and North Florida.
Question: If a pump is 10 miles from your house but oil is under your house, do you own the rights? Yes, there are laws regulating this. Somebody can’t drill down and take your oil.
Collier County Presentation on MSTU’s Bill McDaniel introduced Michelle Arnold and Harry Sells from Collier County. Michelle is Director of Alternative Transportation Modes Department, and Harry Sells is MSTU Project Manager, Public Services Division, Department of Alternative Transportation Modes. He explained we do road maintenance issues. managers of MSTU’s (Municipal Service Taxing Units).
Harry Sells began by explaining how much damage rains do to private roads and how the county doesn’t maintain them. Pot holes appear and get very deep. He said, You asked for help for emergency vehicles and they couldn’t get in because of the road. It took between $10,000 and $11,000 to fix Platt Road, which didn’t last too long. To make a long term fix, it will take an MSTU, a Municipal Service Taxing Unit. (Passed out the blue map outlining Platt Road as a package. To do this, you take this area and tax the people in that unit $5.5 million of taxable assessments. They charge you a millage rate, which is the tax rate of X dollars for each $1,000 of assessed property value.
He passed out (1) a chart of millage rates and projected revenue for two different MSTUs - one for $5.6 million in assessed values, and one for $17.2 million in assessed values. (2) A blue map, Option A, which shows a smaller area MSTU. And (3) A yellow map, Option B, showing a larger area MSTU.
The Board of Commissioners is reluctant to go above a half millage rate. Look at the maps. This is not set in stone. The average projected revenue is $28,000 a year (at 5 mill). At half a mil, it will give revenue of $2800. It’s going to be difficult to maintain Platt Road at that amount. You can take it and fix the bad parts but it doesn’t fix much. The problem is some roads are in really bad shape. If you restrict the area and restrict what can be fixed - look at the yellow map which, at half a mill, gives $8600 a year - and you can pick and choose which roads and areas you want to fix.
Creation of an MSTU. Re: Platt Road the Board of Commissioners wanted to investigate. We had to decide what tax rate we would recommend. We went on the website and looked at roads through Google Earth. But we didn’t look at the areas personally. It’s bad. The Board is looking at this. There are objections some of you will have. What if you don’t live on a bad dirt road? Why should you pay taxes? You would think the people on the dirt road should pay more. But if you live on a private road, you choose that private road. One guy I talked with likes potholes because it slows traffic down. But a road is public, you can’t block it off. And if your neighbors want to fix it, they can fix it. You have no say.
Question: If we bring the road up to county standards, will the county maintain it? Answer: You don’t need to bring roads up to county standards. Most people put up what money they can and fix the worst parts. That’s about the limit of an MSTU.
Someone offered: There is an MSTU at Rock Road for road improvement. They all agreed on it. They put $70,000 into Rock Road 7 years ago. They raised it, put heavy rock in, graded it, and since then we’re putting $25,000 in maintenance.
Don Hughes said: My dad came here in ‘79 and we cleared road years ago. My dad and I did most of the clearing and hauling. We go in and out Friendship Lane. Years ago we started a road association and everybody donated for the fill and we built it up. We tried to figure out how to get the county to take it over but it was so complicated.
Question: How do you decide which roads to fix? Answer: An advisory board is set up. There has to be involvement. They make recommendations. This year you might decide to do Friendship Lane and then next year fix another road.
Bill McDaniel: I volunteered us (CINA) as a communication center to the neighbors. If the Board creates an MSTU, we can have a greater say over the money. What roads need it most, this year this, next year that, depending on whether we choose the smaller blue map or the larger yellow map.
Question: Who decides? Answer: It’s a public meeting but the Board of Commissioners decide. We are here to assess whether you want to do it or not.
Michelle Arnold: There are several processes: (1) getting signatures, (2) we come out and find out if you are interested and we go back and say yes or no. But there is a time limit. We have to establish the MSTU by December 31 this year to get improvements in 2015, by October 1, 2015. The County year is from October to September. So we need to give notice by - (Michelle was unsure but she will get back to us.)
Note: Michelle Arnold reported a week later on 10/23/13 that “there was no discussion yesterday at the Board meeting (10/22/13) regarding this issue. No additional Board-initiated action will likely occur until after the 6 month period expires. I would recommend you move forward with your community activity to determine the desires of the majority.”
Question: There is an MSTU and an MSBU. Answer: MSTU is taxed. MSBU is assessed by their frontage or you can assess it by analysis. Either by frontage or something else.
Maria Tabraue: Our road is OK. Can one section be exempt? Answer: No, that’s difficult.
Mike Duever: When work is done, how do you decide what the levels are that we can do? Answer: A lot is regulated by the Water Management District so there is proper drainage. Example, they may recommend getting culverts. If you want to raise it 3 feet, it’s not going to happen. There is a lot to consider. 57 stone doesn’t last. Limestone lasts longer. Recycled asphalt is good but it’s expensive.
Question: If volunteers from the neighborhood offer labor, do they get paid? Answer: No.
Question: If we decide we don’t want an MSTU, can it dissolve it? Answer: Yes. You go to the Board of Commissioners and ask to dissolve it. You don’t know if this is going to be a good deal for your money or not. If voted in this December 2013, the fiscal year doesn’t start until October 2014, so you don’t get taxed until after. There’s no budget until after October 2014.
Mike Duever: If you have better roads, there will be more traffic. We will lose some of what brought us out here in the first place.
Doug Wilson: We could do a straw vote tonight just to see how we feel, then authorize a vote from all the members later. The Commissioners meet in a week, December 22, and again in December. What’s the latest we can decide this year? Answer: Two weeks before, on December 10. To get it on the agenda, someone has to put it on the agenda two weeks before the Commissioners meet.
Motion: to have a straw vote tonight, do we want an MSTU? It was seconded and passed unanimously to take a straw vote.
Results of the straw vote were: Option B (the yellow larger map) 2 for, 10 against. Option A (the blue smaller map) 5 for, 6 against.
Harry Sells: The Rock Road MSTU has been around for 7 years. They expressed all the same concerns you have. None of it happened! They now want to pave it. They feel they've been paying for 7 years and they keep putting money into the ground. They feel the character of the neighborhood is going to change. If it’s going to change it’s going to change. Maybe your neighborhood will change anyway, with or without improved roads. The Board is the one who makes the decision but if you don’t want it, they may not. They’re politicians. They won’t force it on you.
Doug Wilson: We all pay taxes to help our community. It sounds like it would be another $100 a year. We don’t have a lot of risk properties out here. I’m supporting option B. Motion: that we authorize the Board to formally poll the entire membership about this and tell them that we need a vote by the last week in November. It was seconded and passed unanimously.
Motion: A motion was made to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 pm. It was seconded and passed unanimously.