County opts to let us be
Last week, island residents learned that they can rest a little bit easier after officials from Lee County confirmed with local leaders that they would not be meddling any longer in a number of hot-button issues on Sanibel.
Namely, the LeeWay toll discount program and the proposed causeway fishing pier.
At the Jan. 19 City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane told his fellow councilman that he had spoken with two members of the Lee County Board of County Commissioners – Brian Bigelow and Bob Janes – regarding the letter recently received from Paul Wingard, deputy director of the county’s Department of Transportation.
In his letter, Wingard mentioned a desire to again open discussions regarding the toll discount program, suggesting the elimination of the six-month and motorcycle discounted rates.
Two weeks earlier, with the approval of the entire City Council, Ruane drafted a letter which was sent to each member of the Board of County Commissioners – as well as the DOT and county attorney’s office – reminding them of the signed agreement allowing Sanibel to operate with the current toll discount programs until the county’s lien for the cost of reconstructing the causeway is paid off. That could happen as early as 2012 or as late as 2016.
According to Ruane, both commissioners told him that eliminating any toll discount programs for Sanibel “were not up for discussion.”
Mayor Mick Denham also noted that following his meeting with Commissioner Ray Judah, the matter is considered closed.
“I think it’s safe to stop worrying about this issue… until it comes up again,” Denham said last week.
We also heard that at the last Lee County Tourist Development Council meeting, Ruane spoke with Public Works Director Jim Lavender about the county’s proposal to add a fishing pier on the causeway’s Island B. This past summer, plans to construct a 343-foot recreational fishing structure – estimated to cost between $1.2 and $1.5 million – were revealed by county officials.
But it looks like that won’t happened either.
According to Ruane, Lavender told him “they didn’t have the money for it.”
While there is no crystal ball that could tell us whether either of these issues will be raised again in the future, at least for now Sanibel citizens will sleep better knowing that the county is remaining “hands off” on both subjects.
– Reporter editorial