Council hears about courses, red tide signs
The Sanibel City Council held first readings for three proposed ordinances, heard the results of the 2018-2019 Report Card for the island’s golf courses and learned about a plan to deploy red tide signage at area beaches at its recent meeting.
On Nov. 5, first readings were held for ordinances related to recreation user fees, the use of certain bicycles and mopeds on the bike paths, sidewalks and Shared Use Path, and the operation of gas-powered leaf blowers for commercial uses. Second readings and discussion will be held on Dec. 3.
The recreation fee ordinance would create a three-tier billing system for certain user fees and membership fees for the Sanibel Recreation Center and its facilities and the Center 4 Life. The three tiers would be categorized as early bird registration, on time registration and late registration.
The bike and moped ordinance would prohibit the use of motor vehicles, micromobility devices, motorized scooters and mopeds from using the bike paths, sidewalks and SUP. One exception would include people who are disabled and require a motorized wheelchair or other device for mobility.
Class I electric-assisted bicycles would be permitted for use by ages 18 and older with a city issued permit, which would require an application and a $20 non-refundable fee. But, micromobility devices, motorized scooters and e-bikes cannot be rented or offered for rent to use on the sidewalks and path.
The leaf blower ordinance would only allow the use of gas-powered devices from Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for commercial operations, except on some federal holidays.
Also at the meeting, the council held the second reading for a proposed ordinance that would amend the Sanibel Code and update the hours and locations related to beach area parking. It passed in a 5-0 vote.
“It brings consistency with the signs that are on the field with what is on the books,” City Manager Judie Zimomra said prior to the council’s vote.
During the meeting, city Environmental Specialist Dana Dettmar provided the council with an overview of the results of the 2018-2019 Report Card for the island’s three golf courses. She explained that the voluntary program identifies areas they are doing well in and what needs improvement.
Dettmar noted that each golf course is assigned a score of 1-5 based on their best management practices, which covers areas like education, lake management, irrigation and fertilization.
The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club was found in full compliance with a score of 94 percent the same received last year. The Sanctuary Golf Club also was found in full compliance at 95 percent, though the score was lower than the prior year. The Sanibel Island Golf Club was found in partial compliance at 86 percent. She noted its score, though, has risen 19 percent as it continues to make improvements.
“They’ve all been willing participants in the program,” Dettmar said of all three.
“They’re happy to show us around the course and show us what they have done,” she added.
Also at the meeting, Sanibel Natural Resources Director James Evans reported that the Lee County Department of Health is on track to deploy new signage at area beaches related to red tide. Comparing them to the healthy beaches program, the signs will be used to advise visitors of when red tide may be present and when to take caution, along with list common symptoms, useful websites and other details.
He added that the DOH is rolling out the signs to be more transparent on red tide.
“We want people to know whether or not that water is safe,” Evans said. “I think it’s all about getting the correct information out there.”
Zimomra explained that the signs coming down from the state-level DOH will be placed at the beach access points. She described it as similar to the hurricane watch versus warning system.
“There’s now been a standard established,” Zimomra said, explaining that there is a cautionary versus alert mode. “That’s a major step forward in trying to give advice to those asking us for information.”
Some on council questioned if the signs were necessary, while others supported the move.
“James, I think this is a great next step,” Councilmember Holly Smith said. “I think after last year, this is extremely important. There is a lot of misinformation out there.”
Mayor Kevin Ruane agreed.
“We want to give information that’s accurate,” he said.
During his water quality update, Evans also reported that the city has observed light to heavy accumulations of red drift algae that appeared to be associated with the recent cold front. In addition, red tide concentrations off Sanibel-Captiva have tested in the medium-to-high range recently.
He noted that there have been reports of dead fish and respiratory issues.
“But this is much more of an average red tide event,” Evans said. “It’s relatively small numbers (of dead fish) for the high concentrations that we’re seeing.”
IN OTHER NEWS
– Council voted 5-0 for $148,451 for a feasibility study proposal by ADG Architecture of the current Sanibel Police Department’s wing at City Hall.
– Smith floated the idea of establishing a minimum age to serve on the city’s boards, possibly 18 years old. She explained that the proposal stemmed from recent applications coming from local teenagers.
After some discussion, the city attorney agreed to bring back some research at the next meeting.
– Council voted 5-0 for the following grants from the Lee County Tourist Development Council: $40,000 for Beach and Shoreline Erosion Survey; $1,688,000 for Facility/Beach Maintenance – Erosion Control; $300,000 for Shoreline Stabilization at Turner Beach Park; and $30,000 for Changing Room Rehab at Bowman’s Beach Park.
– Council voted 5-0 for staff to bring back a resolution at a future meeting to continue the terms of Matthew Kirchner, Chuck Ketteman and Karen Storjohann on the Sanibel Planning Commission.