Swimming with Sharks

344

Our town council is made up of well-meaning islanders, our friends and neighbors, none of them professional politicians or negotiators. Now they find themselves swimming with sharks.

The developer has PR people and is doing a full court press on the council to get a plan passed that will give them a good return on their investment. The developers are taking a risk, and are simply trying to maximize their return as any business would.

Lee county is looking at nothing but a big pile of money, and they don’t have to do anything to get that money except to force this plan through the town. The town gets a tiny fraction of property taxes, about 6.5% on my TRIM notice, while the county general fund get about 25%. If and when this project gets built, the Town will see an increase in demand for services; the county will see very little change in demand.

Our history shows the county is not particularly responsive to the demands put on our little island as the playground for Lee County. We are paying now for the cost of neglect before we became a town – building an expensive storm water system and replacing a water utility that should have been replaced while we were with the county. Even with the long overdue Estero Blvd. project, the county did not consider acquiring any right of way downtown to make the road safer for bicycles and less congested and leaves the town to finance landscaping and additional lighting.

It is a tall order for our citizen council to be tough and effective negotiators with the sharks, but it is imperative that they remember to fight hard for the taxpayers of the island. I hope they have the foresight to reject any variances without solid commitments from the county to return some of their tax windfall for infrastructure and other projects here on the island. It is only fair.

Bill Veach

Fort Myers Beach