June 2021 Meeting Summary & Video

Greater Pine Island Civic Association Meeting Summary, June 1, 2021

Due to social distancing needs, the meeting was held on Zoom. Board Members Present: Helen Fox, Nadine Slimak, Debbie Memoli, Shari Perkins, Mike Sweeney, Claudia Bringe.

  • Board President Helen Fox began the meeting with general remarks and a review of the evening’s agenda.
  • 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.
  • Bike (Mixed Use) Path Committee update: Board Member Mike Sweeney reported on first meeting, which was held on April 26th. The proposed path, shared by walkers and bikers, would extend from Veterans Parkway to the 4-way stop on Pine Island. Although there was much support for the path by committee members, business owners in Matlacha were concerned about losing parking space for their customers, who customarily park on the easements. Comments and suggestions about the proposed path are welcome; please email the GPICA at info@gipca.org with “bike path” in the subject line. A public meeting will be held by the county in fall 2021.
  • Traffic issues: In response to the GPICA’s letter to the Lee County Department of Transportation outlining the traffic problems in Greater Pine Island (bottlenecks at the 4-Way Stop and Matlacha; repairs needed on Pineland Road), several GPICA Board members as well as members of the GPI Chamber of Commerce have been invited to a meeting with Randy Cerche, Director of Lee DOT, to discuss how to address them. Some suggestions that were put forward included: installing traffic cameras in Matlacha to alert travelers to traffic jams, police directing traffic during peak hours, building a boardwalk under the Matlacha bridge for pedestrians, creating a path behind the businesses for walkers and bikers, and building a parking garage in the Matlacha Community Park. It was also suggested that Matlacha form an MSBU unit http://leegov.com/budget/mstbu/faq to fund and carry out such improvements, which would require a favorable vote of 50% + 1 of the property owners, and would tax the residents. It was suggested that Pine Islanders might share the cost, since they would also benefit from a smoother traffic flow through Matlacha.
  • Public Hearing Postponed: Tonight’s public hearing regarding the new Publix at “Calusa Cay” and the associated condominium development at “Orchard Cove” was rescheduled as a hybrid meeting (both in-person and online) at the Pine Island United Methodist Church at 6pm on June 29. Representatives from Banks Engineering will present their request for a development order to change several aspects of the new residential community consisting of 96 townhomes and an amenity building located behind the new Publix. The construction includes a roadway, drainage, potable water mains and central sewer collection systems. Two lakes will provide water quality treatment and stormwater attenuation. Also requested are zoning and development amendments to add a package store within 500 feet of a school (Pine Island Elementary). Questions were asked about the need for another liquor store on Pine Island and why it would need to be so close to the school.
  • Kayak Launch Site across from Flamingo Bay: Due to technical difficulties on the part of one of the presenters, questions that arose at the public hearing at our May meeting about the proposed “Pine Island Preserve at Matlacha Pass” in St. James City went unanswered. The consultants have asked the GPICA to reschedule the public hearing. We have requested that they have a legal representative for the developer (the Conservation Foundation) at the meeting as well as provide the audience with a site plan.
  • Clean Water/Sewer System. The County has responded positively to the Board’s request for a tour of the Pine Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. If anyone would like to come with us to learn more about our needs and capabilities for a modern sewage system, please contact info@gpica.org and put “septic” in the subject line. The time and date is 1 p.m. June 14. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are required.
  • Pine Island Pandemic Task Force: The Pandemic Task force, composed of resident medical personnel and community leaders, educates Islanders about the safety and availability of the vaccine and facilitates making the shots more widely available to everyone in Greater Pine Island, including visitors and the home-bound. Dr. James Koopman let us know that Dr. Daniel Hanley, a physician with a new practice on the Island, has 60 Moderna and 100 J & J vaccines available. There is no need to be Dr. Hanley’s patient; people can call his office at 833-742-6276 for an appointment. The shots are free. Although positive COVID cases are declining due to vaccinations, unvaccinated people still are at a very high risk to themselves and others, and should continue to social distance and wear masks in public.
  • GPICA Website — Nadine Slimak updated us on the GPICA website, which was attacked recently. She has changed the host to JokerMedia, which has added an SSL Certificate. This will increase site security and allow us receive payments from members online. We’re looking at Paypal and other payment processing services in order to accept credit card payments. The transaction fees they charge (usually around 2-4%) will be passed along to the members who choose to pay online. Because of the higher price for the website host and increased security, membership fees will be raised to $15/year for an individual and $25 per couple. We will also offer a lifetime membership for $300 for a single member or $500 for a couple. The new prices will take effect on Oct 1, 2021.
  • Proposal for Septic/Sewer Study of Pine Island — Noel Andress, Nadine, and other concerned members have begun work on a proposal that will include documentation of the areas of most concern. These include data from the testing that has already been carried out at Tropical Point by the GPICA and Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani, and samples from the end of York Road in St. James City, as well as data that has been collected by other groups concerned about water quality throughout Charlotte Harbor.
  • Open Discussion: Sue Dahoud informed us about the Rights of Nature initiative, including the need to get a proposal on the ballot that would help protect the right of humans and animals to clean water. A demonstration that highlights the urgent need for increased environmental protection is planned for 9 a.m. July 3 on the Matlacha Bridge.
  • Meeting Adjourned without objection at 8:15pm

Watch the meeting recording


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