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Threat to cooperative stewardship

July 23, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

The town has chosen to selectively charge an annual fee on an owner's right to maintain their private property by hiring a licensed beach raking service. Their intent is to fund educational programs,

vegetation and monitoring of nesting shorebirds.

How ironic! The nesting program's success is the result of the generosity of the condominium owners who pay thousands to groom the wide beach that attracts the birds, and then cooperate as their property is overtaken by signs and ropes until nesting is complete a process that repeats annually. Is this how the town shows its gratitude?

This program, as well as the success of Turtle Time, is dependent upon mutual respect and co-operative stewardship. In fact, the vitality of the seven-mile beachfront - expansive areas of white sand painted

with dunes and vegetation - is largely dependent upon the generosity and cooperation of the private property owners. The State leaves its few feet by the Gulf as is, much to the despair of tourists and delight of environmentalists.

Our town budgets $30,000 annually to groom their 5-percent share (accesses and Newton Park) but the tractor sits broken and idle for extended periods of time. The private property owners' checkbooks are never idle as they maintain the remaining 85 percent.

To be fair, should all canal front and bay front owners pay an annual fee for the right to hire a licensed landscape service to mow grass, apply fertilizer and trim trees in a manner conforming to LDC and fertilizer ordinance regulations? After all, funds are needed to protect our estuary and

tidal waters and protect/restore mangroves for tree-nesting birds.

This is a step backwards in progress made to balance stewardship and private property rights an effort critical to protecting our environment while supporting tourism. Town Council would best serve the community by rescinding this requirement in favor of continuing to build respectful and cooperative relationships that benefit all.

Joanne Shamp

Fort Myers Beach



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