Since the East County Water Control District was dissolved and replaced by the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District, the new board of commissioners have been working to improve the state of infrastructure in Lehigh Acres.
Chair Michael Welch spoke about the challenges facing the LA-MSID and the work the board is doing to help address those issues.
"First of all, we have our own infrastructure needs and the district has to be ever watchful of aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced, particularly in the canal system and the pond system," he said. "The (District Manager David Lindsay) has a whole year's worth of work ahead of him with maintaining that and also replacing some of the older structures that were built back in the '50s."
Welch explained how the LA-MSID's cooperation with other government agencies is accelerating infrastructure improvements, like the widening of state Road 82, which will expand to four lanes and then to six lanes in the fall instead of 2018 as originally planned.
"The past eight years we have been very stable and because of that, when we were elevated, we were also able to become partners with various other levels of government from the feds, to the state, to the county," he said. "We play a crucial role in the six laning of state Road 82 and because of that construction has been moved a up."
Welch also stressed that multi-agency efforts like the road expansion do not just benefit Lehigh residents, but the residents of Lee County as a whole, and that the district's effort in building up a stormwater system is essential to the project.
"State Road 82 has a massive pond on each side of it during the rainy season," he said. "It's going to be a Herculean effort to develop a whole stormwater system there with pump stations, retention ponds and other things so that we can properly six lane it, and FDOT doesn't really have that expertise there - we do."
Welch described the project as an economic opportunity for Lehigh. He explained that infrastructure projects can help attract much needed growth like the Timber Creek Project, a mixed residential and commercial development that is set to be built near the southwest corner of Gunnery Road South and Daniels Parkway.
Welch said more commercial development is important to Lehigh's future.
"We only have 3 percent commercial space. If you want to be incorporated, you have to have anywhere between 12 percent to 14 percent commercial space," he said. "These are the things you have to work on."