The birds may be here to stay.
But Naples officials are hoping two Cooper’s hawks nesting downtown will tire of city life soon.
Naples City Manager Bill Moss told council on Wednesday that intrusive construction on the new parking garage at Eight Street South and Sixth Avenue South would be stopped until at least June 9.
That does not mean, however, that the city will hold off on compression tests until that date.
Moss said these tests are not intrusive, and will most likely not disturb the birds.
The tests involve placing 260 tons on recently poured concrete to compress it while it sets.
Council on Monday criticized Moss for his decision to move forward with construction on the site, even though Mike Bauer, the city’s natural resource manager, recommended all work be stopped until the birds fledge.
Last week, contractors drilled holes and poured concrete into them for test pilings. No work can be done for 30 days, or until the concrete is dry, and Moss said at the time he expected work on the site to stop until the eggs hatch.
The birds are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Moss has said he had a “high level of confidence” that the work wouldn’t cause the pair of Cooper’s hawks to abandon the nest.
If the birds abandon the nest, the city could be in violation of the federal act, which carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and one year in jail.
Once the upcoming compression test is complete, the next step would be to prepare the site for construction. That means contractors will need to cut down the trees and scrape the lot before they can build the garage.
Moss said he was concerned that construction work would disturb the nest, and felt it was best to hold off until the birds have fledged. City staff estimated that will happen around June 9, but Moss said no work will be done until the hawks have left the nest.
Deferring site preparation means the project is not expected to be completed until Jan. 26.
Council members had hoped the work would be completed before the height of season next year.
Construction Management Director Ron Wallace assured council on Wednesday that the garage would be done on time. Kraft Construction, the company hired to build the garage, has completed the past three garages on time.
The four-story parking garage at Eighth Street South and Sixth Avenue South is expected to cost about $8.6 million.