Town Hall was standing room only Monday night as friends and family packed in, overflowing into the lobby to see their newly elected Council members – Tracey Gore and Dennis Boback sworn into office.
Mayor Anita Cereceda first recognized outgoing Councilmembers Alan Mandel and Vice-Mayor Dan Andre, by thanking them for their service and giving them plaques. After they exited Council chambers, Gore was sworn in by her mother, Joanne Semmer and Boback by his wife, Susan.
It was then that Cereceda delivered a surprise.
“It truly has been an honor to serve as Mayor for the past two years, but its time for a change so I won’t accept a nomination to be mayor again,” Cereceda said. Stockton nominated Boback as Mayor, which was seconded by Tracey Gore (edited 3-31-16). Then Gore, saying, ‘this chick has waited two years – she deserves it’ nominated Stockton as Vice-Mayor – which was seconded by Boback.
During Public Comment, Jack Green thanked all the voters for coming out in force. congratulated Gore and Boback on their victories and thanked Alan and Dan for their service to the Town.
BORCAB member Becky Bodnar spoke next, delivering a petition signed by over 200 island seniors who ‘are all concerned about Bay Oaks’.
“We were concerned about the fact that the walking trail didn’t get done – despite being approved by Council – that we don’t have a senior director and now we don’t even have a parks and recreation director,” she said. “Randy was the best director we’d ever had and now he’s been let go.”
Next, Chris Patton asked Council’s help in asking John Richard to put up a fence on the side of his Crescent Street parking lot facing Primo Street to hide the view of men urinating beside their cars.
Patty Feste, resident of Lauder Street, also had a petition – this one signed by 46 members of her neighborhood in opposition to the use of any Tourist Development Council (TDC) funds for improvements to Beach Access 15 (Sterling).
Sea Gypsy owner Jackie Liszak urged Council to reconsider cancelling fireworks on the Fourth of July.
“I represent a group of businesses that would be willing to help – not only for the Fourth but also for New Year’s Eve – in perpetuity,” she said. “I ask that today’s vote be delayed until we can get all that together.”
John Lallo, owner of Pete’s Time Out, also supported the fireworks, saying he’s met with Jackie and come up with ‘a lot of creative issues’.
To allow the two new members time to review it, the 2014/2015 Audit was moved to the Council meeting on April 19th.
Council also agreed to delay a decision on the fireworks, after Councilwoman Tracey Gore announced that the vendor used by the town has agreed to allow them more time.
Rischitelli explained that fireworks were on the agenda because a contract ‘has to be signed by April 1st’. Pointing out that her family ran the fireworks for 25 years, Gore said she has contacted the vendor and he’s agreed to wait until mid-May to allow fundraising efforts to move forward in earnest. Cereceda said she thinks the total event cost needs to include trolleys, citing a last minute effort to include them on New Year’s Eve.
Town staff agreed to look into the costs and return to the April 4th meeting with an amount that needs to be raised.
The last act of the new Council was to assign a liaison to both outside committees and to the Town’s seven advisory committees. They are as follows:
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary – establishes policies and goals for the estuary program – representative: Town staff.
Coastal Advisory Council – advises Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) and other county entities regarding proper methods to preserve Lee beaches –representative: Rexann Hosafros.
FMB Elementary Youth Council – Representative: Tracey Gore, who will meet with the school to determine if there’s still interest.
Horizon Council – advises BoCC on economic development issues – Representative: Dennis Boback.
MPO – Lee County Transportation – Representative: Tracey Gore; Anita Cereceda as alternate.
Hispanic Council – dropped after Cereceda reported they never contacted her.
Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council – addresses long-term challenges and opportunities facing Southwest Florida – staff to ask for reports
Town Advisory Committees
Anchorage Advisory Committee (AAC) – Town’s mooring field; Representative: Summer Stockton
Audit Committee – Representative: Rexann Hosafros
Bay Oaks Recreation Campus Advisory Board (BORCAB) – Representative: Tracey Gore
Community Resources Advisory Board (CRAB) – Creating a vision for the community; Representative: Summer Stockton
Community and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board (CELCAB) – Mound House, Newton Park. Representative: Anita Cereceda
Marine Resources Task Force (MRTF) – Representative: Anita Cereceda
Public Safety Committee (PSC) – Representative: Rexann Hosafros.
During Councilmembers’ Items, Mayor Boback asked about the parking lot on Crescent Street, saying ‘if it’s not in compliance, let’s shut it down’. Program Developer Kara Stewart said she’d send a code officer first thing Tuesday morning.
Keri Hendry Weeg