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Council more concerned with business and the tourist industry than in our islands vision statement

December 28, 2016
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel City Council is promoting a $42 million Civic Core Project that will convert 13.5 acres of wetlands east of the library into walkways, buildings and a 529 to 600-car parking lot. How many native plants, gopher tortoises, indigo snakes and other creatures will die under the bulldozers blade? This project violates section 3.2.2 of the Sanibel Plan for vegetation;

3. Limit clearing of native vegetation.

4. Protect vulnerable native species of plants from destruction.

We have always assumed that land set aside for wildlife would protect Sanibel from the over development seen in the rest of Florida. If the city can take 13.5 acres what is to stop them from taking protected land for other purposes?

The promoters of this project claim there will be little or no environmental impact and little increase in traffic. Is this believable? Five hundred and twenty-nine, or 600, automobiles will surely make traffic on the island worse. That many autos translate into at least a thousand people who will attend events. Can you imagine the effect of a thousand people, automobile lights and revving engines on wildlife?

The project also violates Section 3.3.3 of the Sanibel Plan.

"Sanibel does not intend to hand over more and more of its living space to cars."-

"The city will look for opportunities to reduce the amount of land devoted to streets, roads, and parking areas-"

Promoters claim the project is "by the community and for the community." If this is true, then why does BIG ARTS need more space? BIG ARTS is essentially dormant eight months of the year and the Forum is the only program that fills Schein Hall to its 400 seat capacity. BIG ARTS is making every effort to attract an off island audience and tourists. They certainly do not think that our community will supply a thousand people per performance. They must attract off-islanders or there must be an increase of tourists. These additional people and automobiles increase traffic, impinge on resident's quality of life and kill wildlife. The project should be termed, "The Tourist Entertainment Center."

Promoters also claim that the BIG ARTS facility is deteriorating. If this is so, then why hasn't the board of BIG ARTS carried out routine maintenance?

The council and the promoters of the project are more concerned with business and the tourist industry than in our islands vision statement of maintaining a sanctuary. The council voted unanimously for the project and will use taxpayers money to fund false propaganda in it's support. Mr. Goss, a council member and a board member of SCCF voted for the project. Do other members of the SCCF board have a conflict of interest?

Lee County is expected to fund the project with a $22 million grant. The wily Lee County commissioners will expect or even demand increased facilities for tourists such as a relaxation of Sanibel's rules concerning the height of hotels.

John Raffensperger, MD




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