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No need for cultural center ‘improvements’

By Staff | Jun 8, 2016

To the editor:

I would like to add my objections to the planned cultural center to replace BIG ARTS and the installation of roundabout at the entry to the island.

It is not in the best interest to those who treasure Sanibel as a sanctuary island to build this Cultural Center. I see no real need for it. Would it not be better to repair BIG ARTS where it is than to pave over more of Sanibel Island? We do not make our island sanctuary better with large parking lots and large facilities replacing one that is not fully utilized.

What insanity is promoting the spending of enormous sums of money we do not have? Whose interests are we serving with this project? If there are some who would like to have large facilities for the arts, or for cultural events similar to those in Naples, or Sarasota let them rethink where they live.

BIG ARTS is a nice facility that admittedly needs to be redone to some measure, but this new facility is way over the top. The mayor, I am told, is going to seek funding of more than $20 million and that is not even half the costs projected for the project. How did this plan ever swell to such a grandiose scale? It will cover more than 25 acres. It will cost more than $40 million. It is madness!

The roundabout is wrong for a host of reasons. It will not really help in the congestion of seasonal traffic, as it is a one way phenomenon. In the early part of the day the heavy traffic is coming to Sanibel and then in the opposite direction late in the day exiting the island. The roundabout will not change that. Furthermore, many people who come here have no experience using a circle. Can you just imagine the inexperienced driver hesitating, then stopping, and then proceeding very slowly into the circle? Additionally a traffic circle will do nothing to improve capability of Periwinkle drive to accept more traffic flow. Pedestrians and cyclists will not have the assistance of the traffic control officer as we have now. It simply will not work!

Let us be ever vigilant. Let us be willing to listen, but always to remember that there are some on this island concerned with profit and not the sanctity of nature preservation and island beauty.

Concerned residents, such as I want the issue brought to a public referendum during the time when even those residents who go elsewhere for the summer have returned. We want everything out in the open, as all council business must be. We want every resident to be able to express his, or her view through a fair and open referendum.

Thomas J. DeBenedictis