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Possible Four Mile Cove site purchase advances to county commission

By Staff | Jan 10, 2020

Acreage abutting Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve will advance to the Lee County Commission for possible Conservation 20/20 purchase now that the Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee voted in favor of the site’s inclusion on a recommended purchase list.

The committee action came before a packed house Thursday that included dozens of residents and the five members of the Cape Coral City Council who turned out to support the acquisition. Those proponents applauded the decision, a far cry from last month, when the lack of a quorum and a lower ranking left supporters puzzled and disappointed.

Since then, two things changed.

One, the ranking for the 194-acre property improved from a 47 to a 54, still low. Two, the city has pledged to mitigate any damage that was done to the site, which resulted in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection citing the city for destroying the mangroves.

Mayor Joe Coviello this week sent a letter to Robert Clemens, director of County Lands, committing to restore the property to its original condition.

On Thursday, it was the residents’ turn to make their voices known.

Chris Robben and his wife Amanda used visual aids to prove their point. Chris described the beauty of the property with Amanda showing pictures of the scenery, birds and more.

However, the most memorable quote, perhaps, came from Cape resident Chris Cammarota, who pointed toward Councilmember Jessica Cosden’s young son.

“When he’s a grandfather. I would like his grandkids to enjoy that property as much as he does,” Cammarota said to applause.

The applause grew ever more when CLASAC member Sawyer Smith made a motion to move the decision to purchase the land for Conservation 2020 to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

The CLASAC decision is just a recommendation, albeit an important one. The County Commission will decide whether to begin negotiations with the property owners, who have submitted the site for purchase consideration through the county land conservation program.

In the meantime, the Florida DEP, which cited the city for overcutting protected mangroves, will tell the city what it needs to do to remediate the site.

Councilmember John Gunter, in whose District 1 is where the property located, said he’s glad to see this move forward.

“It’s a great parcel that will not only benefit Cape Coral, but Lee County with the wildlife in the area. To see it move forward is a great benefit,” Gunter said.

Chris Robben said he was very encouraged after the scores were revised and Coviello pledged the city would be accountable for any damage done.

“Pledging to fix some of the mistakes made in the invasive species clearing put a lot of minds at ease,” said Robben, who grew up in the area. “People talk about the species that are there, but to see them is valuable.”

Others also expressed happiness after all the work they did to advocate for the property.

“I’m really excited. I’m pleased the committee decided to move this forward even with the pending liabilities,” said Joe Cruz. “They saw the fact the city is willing to restore there and five council members here in support. It shows the city is committed.”

“We’re happy it’s proceeding and the county will do its due diligence, get it appraised and hopefully make a deal,” said Jason Pim. “If my tax dollars are going to the restoration. I’d rather it be preserved than disrupted by the next owner.”