CAPTIVA COMMUNITY PANEL
September 21, 2004
Panel Members in Attendance: Hal Miller, Chris van der Baars, Rene Miville, Harry Silverglide, Ron Gibson, Dave Jensen, Peter Khoury
Panel Members Absent: Gordon Hullar, John Madden
Audience Attendance: Approximately 65 community members were present
1. The meeting was called to order at 2:05 PM by a roll call of members.
2. Approval of the April 13 minutes will be waived until the October 12 meeting.
3. Miller cautioned the audience to be respectful of everyone's opinions and ideas today, as everyone is in a different place in the recovery process. Questions will be "free form," and we will make an attempt to see that everyone is heard.
4. Miville introduced Rick Joyce, Director, Lee County Division of Environmental Sciences, from the Lee County Department of Community Development. Joyce is a certified arborist, and was present to explain some possibilities for restoring the tree canopy on Captiva Drive and to answer questions from residents. He explained that there are three areas of concentration for Captiva:
a. The beach/dunes system
b. The tropical hardwood hammock
c. The mangrove wetlands
Public areas that are an area of focus include Captiva Drive and the right of way, Turner Beach, and the beach access area at South Seas Resort.
After Hurricane Andrew, the Hurricane Andrew Reforestation Task Force was formed, composed of representatives from all cities touched by the storm. They developed a master plan and received over $1.6 million from the federal government to accomplish this task. Joyce said we can learn a great deal by studying their master plan.
Joyce indicated that this should move ahead quickly, looking toward an installation/initial planting date of June, 2005. This will give all plants a chance to take advantage of the rainy season and get a healthy start.
Joyce outlined some steps Captiva residents should take to get started:
1. Request proposals. What do you want to accomplish?
2. Select a landscape architect.
3. Come up with a consensus design.
a. Decide on a plant palette. Research what trees and plants survived after Charley and Frances. Remember that irrigation and plant maintenance issues must be considered.
4. Send out bid documents to companies.
Audience Discussion and Questions (response from Joyce and others is in italics)
Where can private property owners go for information, other than a landscape company?
Extension Office of Lee County, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Website is http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
To come up with a Master Plan by June, 2005, should we work with other communities such as Pine Island? How can we be assured they'll work as fast as we want to move?
Joyce will be happy to coordinate efforts between communities.
Can we combine efforts initially or should each community start their own project?
Joyce recommended following the model of Joy Klein after Hurricane Andrew.
How can we get construction and repair workers to not cause further damage to the trees and plants? How can we get rid of the Australian Pines that have fallen without destroying other vegetation?
Staking and irrigation is necessary to save trees that were stressed in the storms. Some fallen trees can just stay where they are. Use judgment to do the least harm to the environment. Some side limbs may have to be removed from fallen trees in order to leave them on the ground.
How long can a tree ball stay out of the ground and still survive?
As soon as possible give the tree root ball water. Do not fertilize the tree, once it is repositioned, for several months. Use mulch and/or compost to insulate the root system.
Where do you go to get new trees?
Many will come from growers in the Homestead area. The commercial nursery business is big in Florida and many varieties of native vegetation should be readily available for use here.
Do all the remaining Australian Pines have to be taken down? Who will make this determination?
The Lee County Department of Transportation will make decisions on the remaining trees. Sanibel has reportedly decided to remove all Australian Pines that are in the right of way.
5. Miller introduced County Commissioner Bob Janes. He stressed that the community is coming together to rebuild, and this is a positive first step.
Many residents are upset that apparently healthy, undamaged trees are being taken out. A vote was taken by Captiva residents to maintain the canopy on Captiva Drive, and this is not being taken into consideration by the DOT.
Has there been any further discussion by LCEC to go underground with Captiva power lines?
At this point, no. LCEC will revisit this issue this fall.
Has anyone considered that the seed spores from the remaining trees will spread? What will happen to Bowman's Beach?
Lee County is re-evaluating their policy on the park areas.
There are a large number of pine trees that have a red "x" painted on them and they have been trimmed of their tops. Does the "x" mean that they will be cut down?
Australian pines resprout by a process known as "coppice." New growth is weak, however, and this is a major issue in saving any of the trees. FEMA will pay for removal costs now. If we wait, we have to absorb the cost.
(At this point, Hal Miller polled the audience about how they feel about removing the remaining trees or letting them stay. The audience was fairly close on both sides.)
Who will reimburse private homeowners for damage to their property caused by clean up work?
DOT is making every effort to work within the "right of way" so as not to disturb private property.
If DOT and LCEC can do what they have already done in the "right of way," can they come back and use the same excuse in 4-5 years?
They should be a participant in our Master Plan, and should be responsive to a good plan.
DOT has not paid any attention to our plans for either public or private property. They're not here today.
DOT was not invited to the meeting today.
Since the Australian Pines are coming down, will there finally be room for a bike path? Can it be added to the design plan?
Joyce encouraged that the construction of a bike path should be considered in the Master Plan. Ultimately, islanders must decide this for themselves. Dan Moser, of Lee County's Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, spoke and added that this was the perfect opportunity to consider the bike path. He and others have worked on the proposal for 15-20 years. He encouraged the group to invite the Parks and Recreation Department to share in the design plans.
Eric Lindblat, of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation invited everyone to attend Foundation meetings and to meet with members about feasibility and availability of native plants. He is working with nurseries in Homestead. The Foundation is ready to help private property owners with their questions and concerns.
Richard Galvin, a wholesale plant dealer from Pine Island, encouraged homeowners to buy locally. Local dealers, i.e., Pine Island companies, have experience in what should be planted in Lee County and have the plants ready to meet basic needs.
5. Miller introduced Commissioner Bob Janes, who congratulated the audience on coming together to rebuild their community. This is a positive first step. He encouraged the group to consider the construction of a bike path, and assured that that the County will listen to their ideas. He reiterated that it is, indeed, a good idea to support local nurseries, if at all possible, as the closer you buy to home, the better your chances for successful growth. Janes then entertained questions from the audience.
When will essential services be restored to the island, i.e., the library, phone services, school busses? There is no one location or advocate for residents.
Janes encouraged everyone to keep after individual agencies. A representative from the Captiva Library was there and explained that she was having repairs made and would open just as soon as they were done. Janes noted that phone service had been restored to the island, and maybe her problem was an isolated one. He also suggested that she call the school district about bus pickup for her children.
Residents expressed concerns about the Australian Pines. DOT has placed a red "x" on the surviving pines, and the fear is that they will be removed, also, in defiance of the Captiva Master Plan for the canopy. Does the DOT have the expertise to determine whether a tree has been stressed or not?
They are working to protect the right of way. Miville quoted from the Master Plan that the "canopy will be protected, but if LDOT deems a tree is unsafe, it can be taken down."
Is there someone or some agency that can address the individual concerns of Captiva residents?
The county's Emergency Operations Center may consider this.
Are there any limits that will be placed on Captiva residents for the timely removal of trash?
All resources are stretched to the limit. The County will be patient with residents.
Residents expressed a concern about the increase in the bridge toll. It appears that Captiva is receiving a double hit after the storm damage.
Financing was set, then Sanibel filed a lawsuit against the County which caused a delay. Construction costs soared, and these costs have to be passed on to those who travel on the causeway.
Why are the tolls for residents being raised so much higher, proportionately, than those for day visitors? Current visitor toll is $3 and will be raised to $6, while daily cost is $.50 and will go to $3.
The whole cost structure is based on a formula.
7. Lindsey Sampson, who is in charge of waste removal for Lee County, was present, also, to answer questions and explain what his crews have been doing. He encouraged residents to get their trash to the street for regular pick-up times, keeping it within 10 feet of the roadway. Construction and demolition debris must be separated from foliage. The neater the piles, the easier it is for the crews to remove it. Trucks should be operating on a regular schedule now. Members of the audience noted that businesses and rentals will be re-opening soon, and will all waste be picked up by then? Sampson noted that the likelihood of everything being gone by October 1 is zero, but they are working diligently to get it done as quickly as possible.
DOT will remove the Australian Pines within 10-20 feet of the roadway, as well as the stumps. The priority right now is to get the debris off the roadway, then they will concentrate on the tree removal process.
Recycling services are back on their regular schedule.
8. Ken Gooderham asked for topics for the October meeting. Suggestions included inviting LCEC to talk about providing underground utility service, consideration of a bike path for Captiva, inviting an arborist to answer questions for private homeowners, and inviting DOT to speak.
9. Other Business. Miller encouraged everyone to volunteer for a task force to help the community rebuild. Miville suggested that a future speaker to give advice on how to deal with insurance adjusters might be valuable.
10. Miller made a motion to adjourn at 4:20 p.m., seconded by Gibson.
The next meeting of the Captiva Community Panel will be on October 12 at 9 AM at the CCA Building, 11550 Chapin Lane, Captiva.