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Mayor responds to Commissioner words

-- Guest Commentary --

May 9, 2012
By Mayor Larry Kiker , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Again, in protest, this council must read county directives that directly affect our community from a newspaper.

It is understandable that our commissioner has been receiving comments and questions from residents and businesses about the old Seafarer's property. Between the rumors that there is going to be an employee parking area for the Fort Myers Beach downtown district and that Lee County is considering the purchase of many properties to possibly get into the development business, many eyebrows are being raised.

It all began when the Fort Myers Beach Council approached the county to work with the town to look at the Seafarer's property and adjacent beachfront for what was considered our best opportunity to address the traffic situation on Estero. The beachfront property soon became a park and the traffic resolution has been relatively set aside in lieu of TDC requirements for parking.

Misinformation undermines any hopes of effective communication. After speaking with other commissioners, one has to assume that there is no real plan that has been agreed on by the BOCC regarding the future of the Seafarer's property. Consider that the involvement of the Council has been extremely limited at best. Someone has been making a lot of decisions and now they are being questioned.

There are remnants of past communications that are yet unresolved. LPA requested a flagpole for the park in honor of service from our late Carlton Ryffel. Council agreed, forwarding that request to the county. Now we wait. Concepts for new shade structures are in the works, and there may be a new gazebo? Neither Council nor this town have not seen nor considered any of the concepts.

Jo List created an idea to place artwork on the desolate vacant corner that highlights the entrance to our island from those that enter from the north; the first thing they see after the panoramic view from the bridge. As everyone knows, Jo works with Principal Larry Wood, the teachers and the kids to bring our families together with positive projects for everyone to work with and enjoy together. We look forward to the Fort Myers Beach Art Association and the kids, creating our window to the island. This project certainly requires her leadership and council participation.

Alan Mandel was directed by the council to work with Town Attorney Jim Humphrey to look for avenues that the Town could choose to ensure that the integrity of the property requires that traffic solutions are given highest priority in all future plans. Based on commissioner comments, the council is reacting to rumors rather than information.

When asked why is it taking so long? Judah says the county is waiting on a legal opinion from the town. And the county waits?

A letter was sent to the county, Feb. 9, 2012, written by Fowler White Boggs P.A., Marilyn W. Miller, addressed to Donna Marie Collins, Assistant Lee County Attorney, providing a formal opinion concerning whether any amendment(s) to the Town of Fort Myers Beach Comprehensive Plan is(are) necessary for a surface parking facility. Thus, offering the county assistance from Fort Myers Beach to help with the application. In essence, it's the town that waits!

This situation is rather simple, if an individual, government entity or business property owner wishes to make improvements to property, they must submit appropriate paperwork to begin the process. They all get treated the same.

Mr. Judah explains that "we have hired the consulting firmwith some things we have come up withcreation of signage so that cars coming over the bridge are directed north on Estero, right onto Old Sand Carlos, right onto 3rd Street, right onto Crescent Street and right onto 5th Street to get to the parking lot." Judah further explains that they are looking at removing the left turn onto Crescent and turning the lot into Employee parking.

After decades of waiting, this is the plan?



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