The Silver Hall at Chapel-by-the-Sea turned out to be a pretty “tough room” for developer Tom Torgerson last week. I heard a lot more “boos” than “yays” as Torgerson’s public relations person, Tina Matte, first tried to make the pitch. When Torgerson took the mike, things settled down a bit, However, when he showed the “artist’s concept” of the “canyon” (my term, not his) between the proposed parking garage and one of the hotels, the gasp from the estimated 500 town folks was followed by some pretty uncomplimentary shouts.
One of his charts showed nine or ten public beach accesses through the seawall. Four of those already exist at Lynn Hall Park. He assured us that his seawall was very different and wouldn’t cause erosion except in cases of extreme high tides and storms. Isn’t that what all seawalls are there for? It would not be hard to find a dozen studies by other “experts” who would flat-out say that seawalls are bad for beaches.
It has been suggested that approval of any plan should be put to a referendum. That’s just not going to happen. Ultimately, whether any of this proposal becomes reality will come down to a majority vote on Town Council. Whether the County and Mr. Torgerson work out a deal for the county property involved is between them. Obviously, everyone will have to agree on any re-routing of the Boulevard. Beyond that, any approval of any structure in the town should be none of the County’s business. That’s why we’re a town.
There’s an election coming up in March for two seats on Town Council. Knowing exactly where each candidate stands on this issue will become a litmus test. We, the people, will still have the yes-or-no say about where we go with developing the downtown district.
Fort Myers Beach