Public Works Director Scott Baker had the biggest crowd yet on Wednesday night when neighbors of Amberjack Drive gathered to give their input on what they’d like to see the Town do with the Right of Way (ROW) at the end of that street, which is located at the foot of the Big Carlos Pass bridge.
Baker began the meeting by explaining that Town Council directed staff to meet with residents who live near Town-owned property to get their input on what they’d like to see in those public areas.
“Town Council about 6 months ago asked staff to look at property within the community that may be conducive to parks or recreation,” he said. “We narrowed down it down to five locations, and Council decided to seek input from Hercules residents first. This is us asking residents – hey, what do you want?”
The other four properties on Baker’s list are: Hercules, Coconut, Delmar and the Town Fountain/Bayview Park. Amberjack is the third meeting hosted by staff so far.
“There is still debate on who owns this property,” he said. “That was the landing for the original bridge, and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) owned it. FDOT said they turned it over to Lee County before incorporation, and they think we own it now but they’re not sure. So we want to see what you want if it should turn out to be ours.”
Baker said the discussion is strictly informal at this point and asked for input.
One man immediately stated he doesn’t want anything there, and everyone else in the room raised their hands in agreement.
“Okay, I’ll tell the Council that,” Scott said. “There are a number of properties on the island that the Town owns that we need to decide what to do with.”
Another lady asked why the street is called Amberjack, and Scott replied that name has been on maps dating back to the 1920’s and that he believes that was the name of the original bridge to Lovers Key.
Someone else suggested that the Town is looking for a place to spend its share of the bed tax money.
“We have issues with privacy down there already,” he said. “If you put a fishing pier there, people are going to climb down off the bridge, crawl over our dock and use it – regardless of parking. Plus we already have amenities like fishing – Big Carlos Pass bridge – this property is perfect the way it is now.”
Baker said that is why staff is holding events like this, so public input can be gathered and put into the record.
“This is good because now we all know what you want,” he said. “I would suggest that all of you email the council members directly, too.”
Another man pointed out the fact that 30 people – some of whom flew in from their summer homes up north – showed up at a meeting held during the first week of July proves how determined they are that nothing be built on Amberjack.
“There’s nothing proposed right now, and from the input I’m getting, it doesn’t look there will be,” Scott said. Interim Town Manager Jim Steele went a step further, saying definitively that there is no money in next year’s budget to do anything at Amberjack.
“We’re going to meet with two other groups and compile a list of who wants what and go to Council,” Scott concluded. “Obviously, you want nothing, so that will be on the list and I will keep all of you in the loop so you can see that.”
Next Thursday evening at 5pm, residents of Del Mar will get their opportunity to speak, followed by residents living near the Town Fountain/Bayview Park on Wednesday, July 20th. All meetings are held at Town Hall, 2525 Estero Boulevard.
Keri Hendry Weeg