Representatives from nine advisory boards for the Town of Fort Myers Beach sat down with Council members in a joint meeting at Town Hall Thursday afternoon to discuss projects and concerns.
Council is voluntarily supported by the Anchorage Advisory Committee, which advises on all issues
pertaining to the Town's public mooring field; Audit Committee, which selects an auditor to conduct the Town's annual financial audit and for other auditing purposes as directed by Council; Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board, which oversees the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus and its facilities and provides advice to Council upon request with regard to matters concerning the campus; Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board, which oversees operations of the Mound House and Newton Park facilities as well as interprets goals to manage and promote the cultural, historical and environmental resources of Fort Myers Beach; Community Resources Advisory Board, which creates a vision for the community by promoting and implementing such community activities as public education, leadership, volunteerism, beautification and recreation through the development and cultivation of a corps of community leaders and volunteers; Historic Advisory Committee, which assists the Historic Preservation Board with historic preservation matters and carries out various duties assigned by the Board; Local Planning Agency, which helps to promote a better, more positive community environment and to ensure that the unique, natural characteristics of the island are preserved; Marine Resources Task Force, which promotes stewardship of our marine resources including the rehabilitation of Estero Bay, its surrounding waters and all wildlife, plant life, and air and water quality; and Public Safety Committee, which addresses any safety and transportation issues for the purpose of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of and visitors to the Town of Fort Myers Beach while reviewing, discussing and evaluating the most significant safety and transportation issues within the Town.
Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board chairman Betty Simpson gives her report during a joint meeting involving Town committee leaders and Council members and staff.
"You are the heart and blood of Fort Myers Beach," said Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda to the committee leaders about their respective groups. "Without the advisory councils, the town council would be lost. It's nice for all of us to know what everyone is doing."
Each committee chairperson provided Council with an update of what his or her group was working on. Here is a synopsis from the highlights from each board:
AAC (Katherine Light, Chair) Formed in 2003, the committee manages a 70-ball mooring field and hopes to add another dinghy dock (one at Matanzas on the Bay- the service provider) at the bay access at Gulf Beach Road in tandem with CRAB, which is looking to construct a kayak launch at that site. The group also oversees the pump-out boat (free for those who pay the fee of anchoring at mooring field, but a $15 fee for those outside of it who need the service). "We would like to try someday to partner with the county since those boats are in county waters so that we can reduce the price of the pump-out," said Light. Publicity is important to entice cruisers to the mooring field. A large part of the board's budget is involved in advertising in two magazines. Cruiser's Appreciation Day is the gratitude party the group puts on in March.
Audit Committee (James Rodwell, Chair) Working on an investment policy and currently a financial policy related to water utility. Rodwell stated committee members should be working on monitoring the audit, reviewing financial statements prior to completion of audit, reviewing results of the audit, evaluating auditor performance, reviewing insurance, reviewing salary structures, updating town internal control system as well as completing water utility policy and procedures. The committee is requesting an updated accounting system, and Rodwell would like to develop a policy for whistle blowers.
BORCAB (Betty Simpson, Chair) Currently, membership has spiked to more than 2,000 with 1,734 actively using the recreational facility. There are many diversified programs associated with fitness and pool activity being offered for different age groups. A Friends of Bay Oaks non-profit organization may be started soon. Officials from Bay Oaks and Beach Elementary have been working with officials from the Beach Library to place a sign on that latter property to inform of what is behind it. "This is a very significant committee for our community center," said Simpson.
CELCAB (Barbara Anderson Hill, Chair) Accomplishments achieved include nominating Mound House for national register, achieving eligibility for grant funding, providing review, comments and recommendations to approve museum exhibit action plan developed by SEARCH, updating Mound House action plan and providing a solution for permitting for the Newton Park entrance sign. Tours are held at each cultural resources site for donations only at this time. Mound House attendance has increased in visitor-ship even without the building itself open to the public. Issues and questions include revenue to augment Mound House expenses, role of Friends of Mound House once property is fully open, marketing and development strategic plan needed now, a museum curator/director/fund-raiser needed to lead operations, adequate parking, grand opening planning and volunteer docents role.
CRAB (Miffie Greer, Chair) The self-described miscellaneous committee has been working on making accesses more people-friendly with simple amenities and new signage for all beach access and those bay accesses that apply. Committee members are also working on non-advertising memorial benches for those access sites. Comfort stations at certain accesses are a tough sell. Thoughts are wrapping them (like the Roxie mobile tourism vehicle) to make them more attractive. Nobody wants them at their nearby access, but council members receive phone calls from those complaining about people urinating on lawns, so there needs to be a middle ground. A community garden is being looked into, but space on the island is limited. A leadership conference is being planned during the seasonal months next year, and proposed art projects are ongoing.
Historic Advisory Committee (A.J. Bassett Chair) With three-members from LPA and three members from the Historic Society, the group addresses the architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage of Fort Myers Beach while dealing with local history, the Town vision for preserving local history and the implementation of this history. The Historic Cottage on Bay Road hosts history buffs and every FGCU student. Six plaques have been extended to worthy historical cottages, while Mound House and the Newton Park home are the only two left on the list of eight. Amendments are being made to the Historic Preservation Ordinance. Footprints in Time is a self-guided historical island tour using QR codes throughout 24 landmark sites.
LPA (Jane Plummer - Member) The Council's right-hand organization conducts hearings on issues before they are brought to the governing body's attention. LPA would like to see each committee either provide minutes or a summary of each of its meeting to inform its brother committees and provide a basis for keeping on track. This could be provided in the town's weekly reports. Issues involve no time allocated to in-depth conversations on a lot of matters, not being consulted on educational purposes that may help in decision-making as related to implications in the land development code and comprehensive plan. "I think there is a lot of work that we could be doing to help Council and make it easier," said Plummer.
MRTF (Bill Veach Chair) MRTF's scope of work has involved a beachscape program through a demonstration vegetation project, a second printing of a information brochure, water quality education, information stickers for boats via marinas, getting involved with green organizations and a rebranding of the Beach's somewhat poorly viewed reputation. "I think there is a good opportunity to try to make a rebranding of the island. Our beach sand is incredible, and the wildlife we have is absolutely amazing," said Veach. Statues of certain wildlife possibly at town parks is being looked into.
Public Safety Committee (Bruce Butcher Chair) Begun as an ad-hoc committee due to fatalities and near-fatalities from pedestrian versus vehicle road incidents. Focus is on south end of beach due to faster speeds, walking district that features many businesses on one side of Estero Boulevard and residential dwellings on the other side, but overall attention is needed on whole island due to poor lighting. Actions include improving lighting, reconfiguring crosswalks, eliminating redundant signage, placing RRFBs (flashing beacons) at two locations for better crosswalk access, examining visibility triangles, creating a safety brochure for dissemination, safety banners at three locations above boulevard, researching lightning warning systems and safety education related to personal responsibility for crossing roads. Funds are being sought to create neon t-shirts (Be Seen On FMB slogan) and other retail items to further awareness.
Council is expected to meet with individual committees or groups of two committees in the near future to address the concerns and questions posed at the joint session.
Town seeks volunteers for committees
The Town has openings on its advisory boards. Openings include two openings on the Anchorage Advisory Board, one opening on the Public Safety Committee, and more applicants are needed for our Charter Review Committee.
Contact Town Clerk Michelle Mayher at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Town seeks input for historic preservation hearing
The Fort Myers Beach Town Council is seeking anyone who may have a cottage or know of one on Estero Island that may qualify for historic preservation. Council will conduct a public hearing during its May 19 meeting, held at 6:30 p.m.