At their meeting on Monday night, the Town Council of Fort Myers Beach agreed to delay a discussion on a funding request for to the Tourist Development Council (TDC) for Time Square renovations until Program Manager Nancy McPhee could speak to them at their May 2nd workshop. They also approved the Fourth of July parade and decided to hold off on the hiring of a second code enforcement officer.
During public comment, Maury Nakaya asked Council to include ‘the rebuilding of the Hercules Dock’ on the May 2nd agenda. Next was Ron Fleming, who requested that the Public Safety Committee be allowed to meet again and that the Del Mar bay access improvements be expanded.
“People are as important as turtles, as important as balls in the mooring field,” he said. “The PSC needs to meet.”
Coach Hugh Thimlar, who has owned property at the end of Del Mar for decades, said he doesn’t need all the people coming down his street and that the mangroves are the only thing keeping him from losing his property.
Charlie Whitehead spoke next, saying Little League had a successful weekend.
During Advisory Committee Reports, Audit Committee Chair Jim Rodwell pointed out how the stormwater program began without having a revenue source, resulting in a $2.5 million debt for the Town.
“We feel there is a need to establish fiscal policies and procedures so the Town stays responsible,” he said. “We also have to have a 5-year CIP that we actually look at. With your approval, we will come back to you with some ideas.”
Community Resources Advisory Board (CRAB) Chairperson Miffie Greer reported that two memorial benches have been ordered – one of them for fire victim and environmental activist Jo Finney, and the committee hopes they will be put in place within the next two months.
Council then voted 4-1 (Gore dissenting) to accept the Audit Committee’s audit for the 2014/2015 Fiscal Year, before agreeing to hold the Fourth of July parade – so long as it doesn’t cost the Town any extra money – within certain parameters as there will be grade changes on the route due to road construction. Council member Rexann Hosafros and Council member Tracey Gore had questions about extra costs, and Kaye Molnar – the public relations representative for the road project – said the idea is to have any additional cost absorbed within the project.
Next, Public Works Director Scott Baker reported that the Tourist Development Council (TDC) told him and Council member Rexann Hosafros that – to add improvements to the Del Mar bay access – the Town would need to begin the funding request process anew.
Council member Anita Cereceda – a TDC member – said she doesn’t think Del Mar should have been funded, period, as it is not a beach and neither does the TDC’s attorney.
After Gore asked ‘why not go to the TDC and show them that they didn’t get their money’s worth’, Town Manager Don Stilwell said that the improvements went before Council ‘many times’ but the project ended up being drastically scaled down after negative comments from residents were heard.
“We then told the county we’re done,” Stilwell said.
Hosafros asked what the appeals process should be, and Baker replied to return to them with a plan. Council agreed, and to also ask for a dock at Hercules.
A final agenda item concerning TDC funding for Time Square renovations was tabled until Nancy McPhee attend and make a presentation to Council on May 2nd.
During Town Manager’s Items, Don Stilwell said he’d ‘like to hold off on the hiring of another code enforcement officer’ for a couple of months as other staff members are being cross trained.
Hosafros said she sees a lot of building going on, and Gore said she doesn’t like the idea of cross training, but the rest of Council disagreed and gave Stilwell the okay.
During Council members’ Items, Cereceda reported that she was told seasonal numbers were down across the board amongst all southwestern Florida counties.
Hosafros asked for and received consensus to ask the audit committee to work on a 5-year plan for the Town’s finances.
Referring to a question posed by John Heim at the earlier workshop, Mayor Dennis Boback asked how much it would cost to put QR codes on beach accesses, and Cereceda replied the code signs themselves aren’t costly, but someone would have to maintain the websites they link to.
Keri Hendry Weeg