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GPICA makes donation; discusses septic issues, Woodstock airstrip

April 10, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

At its monthly meeting Tuesday night at the Pine Island Elks Club, the Greater Pine Island Civic Association made a donation to Florida Commercial Waterman's Conservation, and addressed septic tank upkeep and the Woodstock airstrip.

Katie Fisher accepted a check for $1,000 for FCWC. The GPICA pledged $1,000 in matching funds to the group in January.

Between December and last week, FCWC has raised about $18,000 to purchase scientific water testing equipment to test off-shore waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The data from these tests will be turned over to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to try to determine the causes of red tide and algae blooms.

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From left, Scott Wilkinson, GPICA president, Katie Fisher of FCWC; and Roger Wood, former president GPICA.


"To date we have been able to purchase three of these monitors at about $6,000 each," Fisher said. "When our fishermen go out fishing, they can drop these in the water and get the readings on a frequent basis much more frequent than NOAA. We're hoping our data can be used to help understand the underlying causes of these red tide and algae blooms we've been experiencing."

In January, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping executive order to address some of the major environmental issues plaguing the state. The order included an item to have the state Department of Environmental Protection establish a septic conversion and remediation grant program with local governments.

It is estimated that 2 out of every 5 Florida homes uses septic and on Pine Island the number may be closer to 4 out of every 5 homes.

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Dan Honc, president of Honc Industries, has been installing, repairing and servicing septic systems throughout Southwest Florida since 1993 and is a certified Southwest Florida septic tank company.

Honc offered the "Do's and Dont's" of septic maintenance.

Do: divert surface runoff water from roofs, patios, driveways and other areas away from your drain field; have your septic tank pumped out regularly. It should also be inspected for leak, cracks and to make sure the exit baffle is in place; install lint and effluent filters; spread out your laundry loads; and compost your garbage or put it in the trash.

Don'ts: use a garbage disposal; flush disposable diapers, non-biodegradable products; dump solvents (oil, paint thinners, disinfectants, pesticides or poisons)' dig in your drain field or build anything over it; drive over your drain field, or plant trees or shrubbery above it.

While septic can be a cost effective method of sewage disposal for individual households, tanks that are not kept up can cause environmental problems when sewage from old or ill-maintained systems seeps into nearby water bodies.

In other business, Ndakhte Ndiaye, a Woodstock Road resident and member of the group opposing the Lee County Mosquito Control use of the Woodstock airstrip, provided an update on the status of their pending legal case.

"Our answer brief was filed and this is our last legal step before oral arguments will be heard in the District Court of Appeals," Ndiaye said "Residents are not suing for any money, we are only asking that the courts uphold the existing permit that was granted by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners."

According to Ndiaye, the original permit, issued to Mr. Travers and Crystal River Corporation in 1975, allowed for "a special permit for a private airstrip ... with the stipulation it not be open to commercial flyers or others outside the Crystal River Corporation other than personal friends of Mr. Mrs. Travers."

Ndiaye outlined details of the minutes from LCMCD meeting of Feb. 21, 2019, where Mosquito Control states, "We are in the process of determining exactly how we are going to use it (Woodstock Airstrip) and what modifications will be needed to make it a functional heliport."

"So after two years and millions of dollars to obtain this property, they just figured out that they can't even keep helicopters there?" Ndiaye asked.

In a written statement, Eric Jackson, LCMCD public information officer said, "The Woodstock Airport was purchased in December '18 to be the site of a future heliport for Pine Island operations, and will be used as such. The District will not store helicopters at the site unless proper modifications are made to ensure protection of the assets from salt-air corrosion. The Director stands behind his comments made at the February Board meeting. The property's location in addition to its size make it a great purchase for tax-payers in the long-term."

Woodstock Road and Redwood Drive are private roads that for years have been maintained by the residents. Last month the Gulf Shore Estates Road Committee requested a meeting with LCMCD personnel to discuss possible assistance with maintaining Woodstock Road and Redwood Drive.

In a written statement Jackson replied, "Representatives from the District met with the committee to discuss the previous maintenance plan, materials used, and method for completing the work. As new owners of property in Gulf Shore Estates and joint-owners of the roads mentioned, the District offered its support to the Road Committee to assist with maintenance of the roads."

The GPICA, which has represented the civic concerns of the residents of Pine Island and its enclaves of Bokeelia, Matlacha, Pineland and St James City since 1957, will hold its next monthly meeting at 7 p.m., April 2, at the Pine Island Elks Lodge, 5630 Pine Island Road, Bokeelia, FL 33922 - just west of the four-way stop sign.



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