Where it all started.
County representatives Jenny Buccieri, Project Manager from the Facilities Construction & Maintenance Dept. and Shaun Cullinan, Planning & Zoning official, made their best efforts to rise to the occasion. Peppered with input ranging from complaints to pleas for assistance, they began with a brief explanation of how this all began. They leaned into the narrative that the study was initiated by the Board of County Commissioners, in response to concerns about access directed to their offices. Residents of LGI filled in the narrative with accounts of the loss of a ferry landing area for post-Hurricane Ian repairs. Eldred's marina continues to be for sale, which complicates barge availability, docking and mainland parking for LGI property owners.
There was an audible response when she read that the possible project elements may include "Restroom Facility". It was made clear that the current focus was accessibility and the services listed in the project elements may be addressed later.
The most controversial notion introduced by the County reps was the perception of LGI, Thornton Key, DPI, Knight & Palm Islands as one Island. Mr. Cullinan explained that infrastructure and accessibility projects were very costly and needing a wider tax base, the County attempts to broaden the base to be more inclusive. This brought on a wave of commentary pointing out to the speakers that we are unique and individual islands with very different needs and wants. Calls went out to visit the Islands. Discrepancies in the County map were discussed. Mr. Cullinan indicated that the next survey to be sent as part of the study may attempt to segregate the responses by area.
While some complaints were aired about the Palm Island private ferry, the consensus seemed to lean in the direction of the status quo. The audience was told that PIT was currently not involved, and that LGI could be the focus for better access.
Palm Islanders sympathized with LGI's access issues and support their efforts to serve their needs. They also expressed the north Islands' wish to keep Palm Island access contained as it stands now. All agreed that the County will need to find more creative solutions to address the funding challenges of access, and that they need to recognize the discreet barrier islands that they have been treating as one. Finally, the priority expressed by all of our Island neighbors was to preserve our Island lifestyle, whichever island we happen to live on.
A special thank you to Blake Smereczynsky for his excellent notes from the meeting today.
URGENT: ONLINE SURVEY
The Bridgeless Barrier Island Accessibility Survey is still open for input.
THE SURVEY CLOSES on JANUARY 22nd.
The County disclosed that they have received input asking for services from ranging from public bathrooms to bridges to the mainland. If you wish to make your position known, go to: