Andre Leaves Behind Environmental Legacy

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On Monday night, Vice-Mayor Dan Andre stepped down from the Council dais after serving for 3 ½ years on Town Council. Andre – who was appointed to fill Mayor Larry Kiker’s seat in November of 2012 after Kiker stepped down to run for county commissioner – was reelected in March of 2013 but defeated in his second bid for Council last Tuesday night.

He leaves behind a legacy of being a strong advocate for the environment – from when he was on Council and his two years of service on the Marine Resources Task Force – and for drawing council’s attention to far-reaching topics that may affect the Town of Fort Myers Beach. We sat down with Andre on Tuesday morning in the sunny environs of his Mango Street Inn – which he owns and manages with his wife, Tree – where he still seemed a bit saddened by the election results and told us he hopes the new council will not get lost in new development concerns but rather remain focused on some very real issues facing our town.

“First, let me put some rumors to rest,” he said. “It has been bantered at the polling places that my wife Tree is ill and that because of her failing health my focus might be in question. The truth is that Tree is fine, as is my focus, and the Mango Street Inn is not for sale.”

Andre told us he is especially proud of his environmental work (he and Tree were both the recipients of the John Mulholland Award for Environmental Stewardship last year) and for bringing to Council’s attention the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 – something that will be returning to the forefront soon as the delay on its implementation draws to a close. Andre also oversaw the revival of MRTF in April 2013 after a three-year hiatus, and he and Tree successfully resuscitated Adopt A Beach – a program that enjoys continued success.

“Biggert-Waters has been temporarily postponed pending additional studies, but it will rear its ugly head again soon with it’s detrimental impact on flood insurance premiums for residents and businesses,” Dan said.

Andre says there are a number of issues that he was working on that he hopes the new Council continues.

“I hope they maintain a close watch to insure that the ban on fracking stands, continue to push for creative funding sources for our infrastructure, continue to support and to solve the feral cat population,” he told us. “Please don’t allow these crucial issues to fall by the wayside, and continue to protect the environment with responsible beach raking, recycling and the Adopt A Beach program.”

Through his work with the Florida League of Cities, Andre also became aware of a number of other issues on the state level that both he and former Councilman Alan Mandel (who also stepped down on Monday night due to term limits) worked on in Tallahassee: relocation of utilities, local tax protection, vacation rental legislation, public records law, public private partnerships, water quality and sea level rise. Look for a report on these items in next week’s Sand Paper.

As far as the future, Dan says he plans to ‘lay low for awhile’ and concentrate on his business, which he and Tree crafted out of two derelict buildings in 2008 and turned into one of only three certified ‘Green Lodges’ on the island.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to have served the town for the past 3 ½ years, and I’m proud of my accomplishments,” he concluded. “As Richard Bach said in Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, ‘argue your limitations and sure enough they are yours’.”

Keri Hendry Weeg