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Rotary Happenings: Chamber’s Peake updates Rotary on happenings

By Staff | Apr 20, 2016

Every once in a while, our Friday morning speaker has to cancel out. But someone in the club always steps up and can talk extemporaneously on what is going on in their work-a-day world.

That someone this last Friday was Trent Peake, Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, Member Services Manager, who immediately referenced some of the Chamber’s impressive statistics.

They included 160,000 visitors a year stop at the Chamber’s Visitor Center seeking information about where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and where to shop on the Islands.

Their web site alone receives 1.3 million hits a year, exploring information about the Islands accommodations, types of activities, entertainment, and event happenings available on the Islands.

Questions explored can range from the feasibility of accommodations for destination weddings, family reunions, outdoor activities, cultural and historical venues, or just a chance to relax and unwind.

Finding answers to these questions is easy because the Chamber’s website presents Chamber member information geared toward these Island activities.

Promoting island business is surely represented in all communications with Island visitors or potential visitors but another avenue of communication is with Chamber members themselves exploring ideas regarding how to improve visitor experiences and concerns.

Some of those ideas are brought out during monthly Chamber luncheons and Chamber after hour events; this is the time member socialize and ideas can incubate.

Peake told us, “2015 was the best ever season on record for most all businesses on the Islands”.

Expectations for a great 2016 season were high and projections were estimated for the possibility of a 10-percent increase over last year.

Sanibel Causeway counts were down about 2.5 percent for January and up around 3 percent for February. But projections are only thatat this point in the year, that high percentage increase hasn’t materialized, but summer season may pull the actual figures up somewhat.

A number of factors this year attributed to the lower number of visitors than projected to the Islandsa warmer winter season up North, early season rains here locally, water quality concerns, traffic log-jams, and even the fear of Zika Virus; but that being said, the Islands are looking fantastic, new retail and restaurant businesses are opening and accommodation entities are updating providing amenities now expected by travelers.

The traffic concerns are being addressed and the new traffic cams are alerting visitors to the traffic conditions on Island before crossing the causeway.

A question came up regarding the new traffic studies by the Lee County Department of Transportation regarding feasibility of 18 traffic roundabouts throughout Lee Countyone being on Sanibel at the entrance to the Islands at Periwinkle and Lindgren.

According to Rotarian, Ty Symroski , who is following Lee County’s action on this topic the roundabout studies have not been finalized and are ongoing in the areas of safety issues, traffic flow, and pedestrian and bike usage.

The studies also include line drawings and animation projections of how these roundabouts would work in the various locations under consideration.

A budget of $510,000 has been approved for the Sanibel roundabout, but the study has not been completed. Many Rotarians voiced their opinion on this topic and possibly we will be inviting someone from the Lee County Department of Transportation Department to come to the Island and discuss the practicality of a roundabout on Sanibel.

Standby on this one, you might want to attend that Rotary meeting.

Discussion then followed on bike traffic and the proposed Civic Core.

Businesses on Island are affected by all of these ideas and it is an exciting time to see the positive energy projected towards improving our visitors’ experiences and retaining the focus of the Islands on the environmental beauty that surrounds us every day.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7:00 a.m., Friday mornings at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always welcomed.