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Denham, Ruane retain posts on City Council

By Staff | Mar 18, 2009

In a pair of moves which seemed to echo the opinion of a majority of island voters, the Sanibel City Council on Tuesday re-elected Mick Denham as mayor and Kevin Ruane as vice mayor during a brief ceremony prior to the start of their regular session.

After City Manager Judie Zimomra administered the oath of office to Denham, Ruane and Marty Harrity, the three council incumbents who were returned to their posts following the March 3 city election, City Attorney Kenneth Cuyler called for nominations for mayor.

Harrity promptly nominated Denham, who had served as Sanibel’s leader for the previous two years, while fellow councilman Peter Pappas nominated Ruane, whose financial background is credited with assisting the city through the current economic crisis. Needing only a majority vote, Harrity, Ruane and Denham voted in favor of Denham retaining his title.

“I thank my fellow councilmen for their confident to elect me mayor for one more year,” said Denham. “I promise our citizens that I will do this job to the best of my abilities.”

Cuyler then sought nominations for vice mayor, and Harrity chose Ruane as his nominee. Pappas nominated Jim Jennings, but Harrity, Ruane and Denham voted in favor of Ruane staying on for another year.

“Peter, I thank you for nominating me for mayor,” said Ruane, acknoledging Pappas’ suggestion. “I think that I’m still taking part in an educational curve learning about water quality issues, but I appreciate your nomination.”

During their regular meeting, the council heard a status report regarding the Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands (ATPPL) project.

The goals of the ATPPL program are to conserve natural, historical and cultural resources, reduce congestion and pollution, improve visitor mobility and accessibility and enhance the visitor experience.

According to project supervisor David Baxter, the first public workshop – held on Jan. 29 at the Sanibel Recreation Center – and subsequent online survey drew a tremendous response. The workshop yeilded more than 134 comments while the survey, done in conjunction with in-person interviews around the city, registered approximately 4,000 participants.

Some of the highlights from Baxter’s status report:

Participants discussed several options, including motorized, non-motorized, waterborne and congestion management.

The most frequent suggestions were enhancing the island’s system of shared use paths, avoiding congestion along Periwinkle Way and safeguarding the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s environment.

Two additional public workshops have been planned for April 2 and April 16, both at the Sanibel Community House, where additional resident input will be sought

Project partner Cella Molnar & Associates, Inc. of Fort Myers will evaluate the results of the workshops and surveys before the end of June; a report to Sanibel’s City Council should be delivered by August.

“Anything that will be carried forward has to match up with the refuge’s plan, the city’s plan and Lee Tran’s plan,” Baxter noted.

Lee County Transit (LeeTran), in cooperation with its partners – the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the City of Sanibel – was awarded a grant through the Federal Transit Administration under the ATPPL program.

The program is designed to assist national parks and public lands (including wildlife refuges) in managing their visitation, while meeting the primary goal of providing sanctuary habitats for various wildlife.

In other business, the council decided to amend their summer schedule of city meetings, cancelling three sessions – June 16, July 7 and August 4 – while moving their Tuesday, Sept. 1 gathering to Saturday, Sept. 5. The latter meeting will also feature the first 2009-10 city budget hearing.