Archives for Spring 2014


Take Me Out to the Ballgame…Lee County Stadiums Enhance Fan & Player Experience

Lee County is home to two Major League Baseball World Series Champion teams, the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. As the 2014 Spring Training season begins, fans and players arrive to find new stadium upgrades meant to enhance their game experience.

Throughout the past few years, the addition of the Boston Red Sox Spring Training facility, JetBlue Park, and the more recent renovations at the Minnesota Twins Spring Training Facility, Hammond Stadium, has provided exciting improvements for the overall fan experience. These changes create a sense of optimism and anticipation of drawing many more visitors to our area and consequently helping to fuel our local economy.

Johnson Engineering is the lead civil engineering consultant for both sports complexes and our planning, development, surveying, water resources, and utility team members have been highly involved in the survey, design and permitting of the roadways, parking, utilities, and other site infrastructure throughout both complexes.

During design and construction of JetBlue Park our water resources and utilities team worked to overcome conflicts between the irrigation lines, large drainage systems, and the deep gravity sewer since all seven fields are consistently being watered and drained to maintain perfectly manicured surfaces. The schedule was also a significant challenge for these projects as “the games must go on” and ball players were arriving for Spring training. It was imperative that all permitting and construction was completed by that time.

JetBlue Park is now successfully hosting its third Spring Training season, and the Hammond Stadium Sports Complex just kicked off its 23rd Spring Training season with the grand reveal of their recent renovations that include a new 360-degree boardwalk and concourse, increased seating, extra parking, additional practice fields, and a new player development academy. The academy provides a residential living space for players and staff to stay and train year-round, just another added benefit to entice more frequent visits to our area.

These are just the first phase of improvements. Plans are currently underway to begin the second phase of improvements once the 2014 Spring Training season has ended and is expected to be completed before the 2015 Spring Training season. These improvements will include additional upgrades and expansions of the concourses, clubhouse, premium seating, group seating, improved concession services, restroom renovations, and a new retail store.

Both the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins have signed 30 year agreements to stay in Fort Myers. These improvements demonstrate Lee County’s long-term commitment to keeping both teams happy and comfortable staying in Southwest Florida. Both parks not only host Spring Training, but they also provide a home for minor league baseball teams, and also serve as a venue for high school baseball championship tournaments, local festivals, circuses, conferences, and many other events.

Being a local company based in Fort Myers for the last 68 years, it’s exciting to be a part of this significant transformation of our area. Our team has been fortunate to have been involved in these momentous projects.

For more information on Johnson Engineering’s involvement in these projects, please contact Kevin Winter, P.E. at [email protected].

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Mobile Mapping App Helps Clients Geographically Map Project Data

Since 2011 we have been providing our clients with the tools to have real-time data interaction with their projects. Our GIS team developed a Mobile Mapping application for iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices, as well as for standard desktop web browsers, using ESRI’s ArcGIS Online technology. ESRI is the industry standard for GIS applications. Using the device’s GPS location information, this technology allows clients to see their current position on an aerial background and turn on/off secured project specific data layers generated from our server, or the client’s internal GIS server. Any site specific information you want to track can be input to GIS and mapped out for future use.

Throughout the last three years this application has become very useful to a wide variety of our clients, both private and public. It’s a huge benefit for clients to efficiently access their various facilities data while on the move. We’ve assisted multiple municipalities with mapping projects such as their public utility lift stations, underground utility lines and mains, well locations, stormwater facilities, environmental assessments, wetland and species mapping, roadway intersections, as well as agricultural and ranching operations. Visually mapping specific locations or boundaries, characteristics, and other pertinent site information helps make more informed decisions about operations, assists with permit compliance, and ultimately helps the project run more efficiently.

If you think this Mobile Mapping technology would be helpful to your business, contact Mike Lohr, P.S.M. at [email protected].

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1¢ Sales Tax Due to Expire this Year

For the last 20 years, many projects that have enhanced the quality of life in Charlotte County were funded by what’s called the One Cent Sales Tax. All resident, visitors and tourists who spend time in the County pay this one percent sales tax, which helps to keep the County in good condition. It has funded many great projects such as South County Regional Park, North Charlotte Regional Park, Ann Dever Memorial Regional Park, dozens of miles of sidewalks, pathways, and many of the major County roadway projects, including hurricane evacuation routes. These public works projects were put on an accelerated schedule directly due to the One Cent Sales Tax and now they are priceless assets to all who live, work, and play in Charlotte County.

These projects ease congestion, reduce accidents, create and bring together communities, as well as attract more business to the area. These projects also help support local businesses like ourselves, providing jobs to those who are needed to design and build the infrastructure.

This current local option tax is due to expire at the end of 2014. This November 4, 2014, you may see a referendum on the ballot asking voters to extend this percent local option sales tax for the next six years. This tax has helped us through tough economic times, including reductions in state and federal assistance, property tax reform, and unfunded mandates from the state and federal level. The One Cent Sales Tax funds have served us in Charlotte County well in the past and can continue to do so in the future. Johnson Engineering supports this, our employees depend on these jobs, and we hope you vote YES this November to extend this percent local sales tax option for six more years.

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Water Quality Standards Program May Be Moving Forward

In January 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drafted new rules for the Water Quality Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC), but were never fully implemented due to many legal challenges. To protect our waters from pollutants, such as excess nitrogen and phosphorus which can cause algal blooms, these set numeric limits are aimed to reduce the pollutant load. These proposed rules, however, were proven to be subjective and unreliable, which led to the EPA’s decision to move forward with repealing the new rules and allowing the implementation of the State of Florida’s water quality rules.

This January 2014, the court granted the EPA’s request to modify the consent decree to exclude the adoption of numeric downstream-protection criteria or NNC for Florida streams or marine waters, tidally influenced streams, or conveyances primarily used for water-management purposes with marginal or poor stream habitat components. This ruling would have moved us closer to implementing Florida’s NNC rules, rather than the EPA’s proposed federal criteria, however this decision has now been appealed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia.

Our team will continue to monitor this as it unfolds and will keep our clients informed. For additional information on how these rules could affect you, please contact Andy Tilton, P.E. at [email protected].

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