January 2021 Meeting Recording and Summary

The January 2021 meeting of the Greater Pine Island Civic Association included a presentation from Jesse Lavender, Director of Lee County Parks and Recreation about the County Parks’ Island properties along with a report from the GPICA Nominating Committee, and updates on the GPICA Community Issues Survey and the proposed WINK Doppler Radar Tower.

Pine Island Parks Update, Jesse Lavender, Director of Lee County Parks and Recreation

  • Pickleball Courts at The Center: The County is currently seeking a site designer and contractor to add pickleball courts near the tennis courts and the Garden Club property. The county is planning for three courts and hopes to have them open by the year’s end. During the site design process, they will decide how much parking is needed. Lavender also said that the county would look at whether the site needs additional access to restrooms and, later, whether the courts need to be lighted for play after dark.

Pickleball Courts Preliminary Site Plan


  • Pine Island Commercial Marina — better known on the Island as the Fisherman’s Co-Op, 6001 Maria Drive: The County is completing its final phase of improvements to the Co-Op site (which began when they purchased the marina in 2001), including dredging the canal near the marina’s entrance, repairing seawalls and making improvements required under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The county is currently negotiating with the Fire Marshall about whether the site needs a fire hydrant (which would require running a water line or digging a well at great expense). The work at the site will NOT include providing additional parking or boat slips.
  • Lavender’s Landing Boat Ramp, 7290 Barrancas Ave. N.W. The County is planning major updates to the main structure and the cottages to make them more appealing as rentals to visitors and is beginning the process of seeking a vendor to handle cottage rentals. A reorganization of County Parks & Rec staff will allow for staff to have offices at the boat ramp to monitor parking and other issues there. The County is currently working with a design firm on the project.
  • Conservation 2020 Lands: The County is evaluating all conservation properties on Pine Island to see if they can add additional hiking and paddling trails to increase public access. This is an ongoing project. (You can view Conservation lands here)
  • Buttonwood Preserve 2020 Land: The Conservation land purchased just south of the Winn Dixie (near the Buttonwood Preserve) has an adjacent site purchased separately by Lee County Solid Waste as a place to store storm debris if needed. County Parks is working with Solid Waste to develop up to 1.5 acres of that site as a fenced, off leash dog park. The land would be available as needed as a holding site for hurricane debris, but can otherwise be used by dog owners. The County is looking at conservation/land use issues and then will begin site planning.

Conservation Lands on Pine Island



GPICA Nominating Committee Update, Debbie Memoli

Five GPICA board seats are open for election in February. GPICA Board member Debbie Memoli reported that the following members have been nominated to serve on the board. No nominations were made from the floor. (Nominations from the floor can still be made during the February meeting).

Current Board members running for reelection are:

  • Helen Fox
  • Tim Heitz
  • Debbie Memoli
  • Scott Wilkinson

New Nominee

  • Bokeelia resident Mike Sweeney

Current Board Member Anna Stober is not seeking re-election.

Community Survey Status Report, Helen Fox

As most of you know, at a presentation for the GPICA general membership in December of last year, Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane agreed to work with us on issues that concern residents of Greater Pine Island. Accordingly, the GPICA Board created a survey that asks respondents to name three issues that most concern them and why. The survey has been up on the GPICA website since mid-December and is still gathering information. So far, about 110 people have responded, and each has named up to 3 issues, so we have gathered more than 250 concerns. Many of these responses fall into 4 or 5 general categories, and the rest are scattered among a variety of issues. Since the GPICA.org website is still accepting responses, we want to encourage you to respond to the survey if you haven’t already done so, and to ask your Island friends and neighbors to respond as well. By next month’s General Meeting we’ll have a good, strong sampling of what people think. At that time we’ll present a summary of those responses to you and discuss moving forward.

Update on Proposed WINK Doppler Tower, Jeff Waller

Pine Island Resident Jeff Waller presented an update on community members’ opposition to WINK News’ proposal to build a 110-foot Doppler Radar Tower in St. James City. Waller has been spearheading the opposition based on the idea that the tower is inconsistent with our Island’s coastal-rural character, that it would have adverse effects on wildlife and human health, and that the tower is not needed to ensure that the region is covered by radar used in weather prediction.

  • GPICA members voted last year to support this opposition.

Joining in the opposition are Mike and Cindy Rapsik. Mike retired from the National Weather Service following a 40-year career in meteorology and electrical engineering and is willing to share his expertise that the tower is not needed and that the arguments laid out by WINK News are disingenuous.

Jeff is also:

  • Reaching out to Island businesses, especially Realtors, to rally support;
  • Seeking to make presentations before other Pine Island community groups;
  • Seeking help to set up a website and help disseminating information through social media;
  • Planning to run an ad in the Pine Island Eagle to alert more residents to the issue.

Do you want to join in and help with the opposition? Would you like Jeff to make a presentation to your group? Can you help with website creation? Please email stopdoppler@gmail.com.

Key Upcoming Dates:

  • WINK has until Jan. 15 to resubmit their proposal to answer County staffers’ questions
  • The County has until Jan. 30 to determine whether the application meets sufficiency requirements
  • A public hearing before the Hearing Examiner should be scheduled before March 30. Please consider attending and voicing your opposition.

Learn more about the topic in Jeff’s overview and view his 1-5-21 update

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