To the editor:
"Incorporate Greater Pine Island to save our island way. With no tax increases!" Saving something like an "island way" sounds really good! Even better if it is free.
Last Tuesday night (April 4), Roger Wood, president of the Greater Pine Island Civic Association, outlined the early stages of GPICA's examination of incorporation as a means to achieve certain goals.From his words and the some 26 pages of financial summary we currently have available, I take that to mean we want:
1) A stronger voice in guiding how our island's lifestyle, businesses and environment are affected by the actions (or inactions) of federal, state and local governments,
2) Better and earlier notification by such entities of their plans to take actions which might impact on the island communities, and
3) The ability to conduct and/or legislate some small municipal programs to supplement the basic services which Lee County would continue to provide, and maybe even add meaningfully to our fight to protect our water quality.
These are terrific goals! But I, along with others at the meeting, are concerned that thus far, little or no attempt has been made to identify and clearly outline just what this government would actually do to achieve those goals and what other, less expensive and less dangerous and burdensome means might be available to us to achieve them, short of creating an entire new layer of bureaucracy that will cost at least a million dollars a year to operate.
(No, Virginia, "No Tax Increases" does not mean that this government will be free). So a million bucks buys us a big toad. If we want the toad to eat bugs it will cost us more! Any benefits of this government will have to be funded out of the surplus or reserves and no one can say for sure how much, if any, will be available.
So, I sincerely hope that GPICA spends more time thinking in real terms about real programs, real projects and real costs. What does our million bucks buy us and how do we ensure that our new government is less corrupt or prone to special influence than the Cape Coral and Lee County governments we are so fond of throwing mud at?
Please, GPICA, ensure that the next phase, the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis candidly and completely addresses these issues in very concrete and specific terms - do not allow the study authors to get away with throwing out platitudes and generalities. Consider this a test.
If we, as a citizens association, can't get a meaningful study out of a contractor at this stage of the game, how effective will we be when we are a municipality?
Oh, one more thing: I did not like it when, almost two years ago, a member of the Lee County Commission threatened us with a "flyover" (bridge) over the top of Matlacha. I like it even less when GPICA threatens Matlacha with, to paraphrase, "Get on the incorporation bandwagon or suffer the construction of a flyover." Shame on you! I, and many others in Matlacha, do not want to ever hear the "F-word" again! The word, "bypass" is anathema, but still preferable! Instead, focus on creative and viable ways to solve the traffic problems that do not involve obliterating what is arguably Lee County's most shining and historic cultural jewel!