To the editor:
I attended the task force meeting at town hall on Friday, May 18. The committee members present consisted of two staff persons from town staff, one town councilman, one town resident member and two business reps. One other business owner (not partner in the issue) sat in the group but did not participate in discussions.
The two staff, town manager and land development code director, carried the discussion forward throughout the 1.5-hour meeting. The Councilman was basically just present. The two business reps had very little to contribute. The one town resident member of the task force served the community well while making several contributions when answering questions asked of him by the town manager.
My observation was that the entire task force group has 'milked' the issue of serving alcohol on the public beach of Fort Myers Beach to the extent that they were tired of it all but did ask a few questions. Each time a business rep contributed or asked a question, staff quickly responded. The LDC director interjected new additional information, corrections and changes in the ordinance that he said he is continuing to write. Actually, these two staff members seemed to be the individuals most interested in the proceedings. I got the impression that the business reps, while still interested, were not overly concerned about the whole issue. Serving alcohol on the public beach is not a life or death situation to them.
It has been stated at Council meetings that up to three businesses located on the public beachfront are operating legally. I believe that the town manager and land development code director knows that statement is not correct. However, the Councilman and two town staff decided to schedule a visit to the Beach Pub again and on to Junkanoos and Holiday Inn for the task force on Monday 9 a.m., May 21. Since I know the beach very well, as most residents do, I did not feel that I needed the walk.
It appeared that the two men on the town staff who had served Cape Coral for a few years were stronger for this alcohol issue than any other person in the room.
The whole meeting proceeded smoothly and quietly with not many contributions or questions throughout the course of the meeting. I believe that there were three residents in the audience plus two journalists sitting at the large table in the back of the room. No one outside the task force group was allowed to contribute or ask question.
I believe the task force was ill conceived to begin with and should be dropped. Serving alcohol on the public beach is not a business decision. This is a community issue. Is it possible that individual Council Members do not understand how the majority of our town citizens feel about the issue? I don't think so However, you can always show up and let your thoughts and feeling be known. After all, it is your community and your town - that will be forever effected.
Former Councilman, Vice Mayor, & Mayor
Fort Myers Beach