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Personal watercraft and alcohol on the beach issues

May 16, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

From the first week in January 2011 to about the first week in September 2011, I would write letters to you and Council members about the personal watercraft rental business, because the Beach Ordinance allowed unlimited beach storage on the public beach. One of these businesses operates in front of my home. It was not here when I purchased my home on a public access #16. My wife and I were concerned about noise. However, being a former educator, we were use to lots of activities and so living on a public access has not been a problem.

The wave rental operation in front of our home had become a problem. The rental operator had begun to accumulate many storage items that were unsightly so I called a Town Land Development Code Enforcement Officer and Shane Hilde visited the location with me a couple of times. Long story made short, he told me that he could not make them move anything because they were within the code. I wrote to all Council Members but received only one response - that was Mayor Larry Kiker.

I wrote a fuller explanation to him of the problem that Enforcement Officer Shane Hilde and the problems confronting us to improve the situation of all the storage items setting on the white sandy public beach. Keep in mind that it is not the operator's fault. Shane said the operator was within the Ordinance guidelines. When I objected and stated my dismay that we are talking about the public beach, he said, "No. There is no public beach." That entire beach belongs to the rental operator and the condo owner. I became very upset with that idea and began writing Council, Town Manager and LDC Director.

Only the town mgr. answered my emails by stating, "I am handling this and will get back to you." When I responded that since I had asked Council to consider rewriting this part of the Wave Runner Rental Ordinance, I expected to hear from a Councilman. The manager responded very definitely that he was dealing with it. He supposedly took it before Council. Everything was closed at that point.

I arranged an appointment with Walter, Keith and Shane. The meeting went well but no one would talk about the ordinance, the public beach storage and use, or the comment, There is no 'public beach.'

The meeting was essentially useless. A few days later, the Director's LDC Report of alcohol use on the beach was released and was published a few weeks later. I was shocked! An article in local news published in the spring had, I thought, indicated that he was on a path to clear up any misunderstanding, and I read it to mean that he and the LPA were seeking to stop booze use on the public beach. The opposite had happened. He had been writing a new ordinance to clear the way to "license" all public beachfront business bars. Wow! What a turn of events. [I learned much later that Hilde is no longer with the town! I am very sorry. Shane was a good and honest man.]

That, ladies and gentlemen, was my introduction to finding out about this Town Council's intentions of serving alcohol on the white sandy public beach to the length of the island. But, things change daily. Stick around; more to come.

Garr Reynolds

Former Councilman

Fort Myers Beach



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