Last Thursday night, the newly formed Beach Area Civic Association (BACA) held a meeting at Bay Oaks where members discussed the proposed Bay Harbour Marina Village development on San Carlos Island, the future of the Conservation 20/20 program and Bay Oaks.
BACA began meeting in January of this year, and is now a fully formed 501c-4 non-profit organization with about 60 members.
“There’s a lot going on,” said BACA President Charlie Whitehead. “At our meetings, we will discuss the potential future at Town Hall. With two new members of the Beach Town Council there could be change in the wind. We need to discuss our wants and desires for the new council and how and when we can interact with town government.”
“The releases from Lake Okeechobee have been lessened but the issue is anything but dead,” Whitehead continued. “As the waters of the Caloosahatchee and our estuaries eventually clear, the attention of the politicians and of the media is sure to wander. It is our responsibility to keep them focused on the quality of our water and what they should be doing about it. Our local Congressman Curt Clausen has introduced legislation at the federal level that would call for $500 million for land purchases south of Lake Okeechobee.”
Whitehead told us that the Civic Association has begun to form committees, with the idea of putting members’ individual skills and interests to their best use. While last Thursday’s meeting was only attended by about 10 people, several of whom arrived late due to traffic, earlier meetings have had much bigger turnouts.
One person who did attend was Charles Messina, a Realtor from Pine Island who ran unsuccessfully against Representative Ray Rodrigues in 2014.
“I am considering another run, so I’m meeting with groups like yours to tell you that I’m 100% opposed to fracking and to finding a way to stop the excessive releases from Lake Okeechobee,” he said. “The Army Corps of Engineers is saying the dike needs to be fixed first – well, what’s taking them so long? It’s been over 9 years! The Herbert Hoover dam was built in 5 years.”
Those present last week also discussed the ballot language for the county’s Conservation 2020 program that passed in 1996 and returns to voters this November, expressed frustration over the lack of information coming from the Town about the future of Bay Oaks and agreed to send a letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) opposing to the reclassification of the Florida manatee from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’.
“Grand Resorts remains officially mum, passing on opportunities to comment on its plans in lieu of changes on Town Council,” Whitehead told them. “They say it will stay that way, but we’ll keep checking.”
“Our committees are starting to take shape,” Charlie said. “Please consider and choose your opportunity to serve, he concluded. “As always we are meeting to share information and to discuss your concerns. Feel free to spread the word and to remind me and all of us of anything you think we need to know.”
The next BACA meeting will take place on Thursday, April 14th at Bay Oaks at 6pm.
Keri Hendry Weeg