May 2021 Meeting Summary

Here is a recording and summary of the May 2021 meeting of the Greater Pine Island Civic Association. Please note that due to technical difficulties, the recording begins as the main speaker, Dr. Randy Wells is mid-way through his presentation.

The May 4, 2021, meeting of the Greater Pine Island Civic Association was called to order at 6:34 p.m. and took place via Zoom.

• Board President Helen Fox began the meeting with general remarks and a review of the evening’s agenda. She announced the appointment of Deborah Swisher Hicks as a new Board Member to replace Roger Wood, who retired from long service to the GPICA, and welcomed her to the board.

• Board Member Mike Sweeney provided the Treasurer’s Report: $2,652.29 in the checking account; $16,760.32 in the money market account and $76,328.47 in a certificate of deposit. He noted deposits of $70 for membership dues and expenses of $820 for directors & officers insurance and $8.38 for website/email expenses.

• The main speaker for the evening was Dr. Randy Wells, Vice President for Marine Mammal Conservation at the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) and Director of the CZS Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. Dr. Wells is a co-founder of and directs the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population, which began in 1970. Today, the program is known worldwide for its groundbreaking research techniques and findings about everything from dolphin communication, behavior and biology to the social structure and ecology associated with dolphin communities. While the program is focused in Sarasota Bay, it has studied the dolphins of Charlotte Harbor. During his discussion, Dr. Wells provided an overview of dolphin behavior and social structure and discussed some of the activities that put dolphins at risk.

Of particular note in Charlotte Harbor/Pine Island area, he said, was the illegal feeding of wild dolphins. This behavior acclimates dolphins to approaching humans, which not only disrupts the animals’ normal feeding behavior, it also puts them at increased risk for fishing gear entanglement and boat strikes — both of which can be fatal to dolphins. (You can learn more about dolphins and ways to keep them safe in the wild at

Also on the evening’s agenda was a public information session on a proposed kayak launch in St. James City.

• Veronica Martin, Senior Planner with TDM Consulting, and Tom Odom, from Mitigation Resources, made a presentation about a rezoning and special exception application the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast plans to submit to Lee County. The Foundation is asking to rezone 207 acres from C-1A and AG-2 to the Environmentally Critical (EC) zoning district in order to allow a boardwalk, kayak launch, and small parking lot. A special exception is required to permit impervious surfaces for passive recreation in the EC zoning district. The property doesn’t have an address yet, but the STRAP No. is 10-45-22-00-00001.0050. The project is called Pine Island Preserve at Matlacha Pass.

Unfortunately, Martin experienced technical difficulties and could not fully participate, leaving many of the residents’ questions unanswered. With no representatives of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast on hand to provide answers, the Board declined to put forth a vote to membership on the project and instead asked that the Foundation and its representatives return to a future meeting for another public information session that would more fully answer residents’ questions.

At about 8:15 p.m. Board Member Shari Perkins made a motion to adjourn. It was seconded by Vice President Nadine Slimak and the meeting adjourned.

Meeting Recording


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