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Live Rock

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Reply with quote  #1 
I wonder if someone could bring this article to JJ's attention. Clyde Butcher made me aware of it and I think it's the worst news to come from the 10,000 Islands in a long time. Perhaps JJ knows someone (or a group of someones) that might want to get involved. Sorry for the bummer of a post on a Friday! 


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Live Rock

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From: Snook Publications
To: Snook Publications
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 4:48 PM
Subject: Smallwood Store needs your help

As you may know, last Thursday on April 14, the private developer Florida-Georgia Grove LLP, who owns the property adjacent to the historic Smallwood Store and Museum on Chokoloskee, bulldozed Mamie Street (on the south end) and blocked the only accessible entrance to the Museum. They also enclosed the old Blue Heron Motel property with a chain-linked fence and put up "no trespassing" signs. All private driveways on Mamie Street were denied access. Some of these homes are on Parkway Village's site so they can drive around to get access to their homes. One individual's home is landlocked. Florida-Georgia Grove LLP say they have permits to build a dock, boat ramp and seawall for their private use. 

Mamie Street (named after Ted Smallwood's wife) has been used as the only access road for the past 60 years to the Store and Museum. The developers would prefer that visitors drive down the private Calusa Drive dirt road (which they have offered to pave) and through a residential neighbor where children play. They would need to widen this road which may not be possible due to the proximity of the Santini family cemetery (early pioneers of Chokoloskee) and they would also have to cut down the century-old gumbo limbo trees; then connect with a pathway (which would also have to be widened and paved) through the wetlands to get to the historic Smallwood Store and Museum. 

The Board of County Commissioners will be meeting at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26, on the 3rd Floor in the County building at 3299 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, FL 34112-5746
to
"discuss a private developer's closure of Mamie Street and the resulting cutting off of access to the historical Ted Smallwood's Store and other residents of Chokoloskee and to recommend that the Board direct the County Attorney's Office to work with staff and Commissioner Coletta to investigate and review this matter, attempt to amicably resolve the issue, and report back to the Board for further direction."

In the meantime, while they are investigating and reviewing and reporting back to the BCC, the Smallwood stored is closed. If you wish to express your views on this subject to the County Commissioners, please call them at 239-252-8097 or email each of them:

Jim Coletta - jimcoletta@colliergov.net
Fred Coyle - fredcoyle@colliergov.net
Donna Fiala - donnafiala@colliergov.net
Tom Henning - tomhenning@colliergov.net
Georgia Hiller - georgiahiller@colliergov.net

Smallwood Store needs your help! Restore Mamie Street and make it accessible to the public.

Thank you for your interest in our community, Patty Huff

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Live Rock

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Reply with quote  #3 
Sorry again...it's just that...Chokoloskee is my Lochloosa!
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Reply with quote  #4 
No sorry needed Live Rock!! Thank you for posting. Tox can pass this along to JJ for sure.

I'm moving this to the front porch so more people will see it. I think it fits.
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Live Rock

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Thanks Clay! 
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slick814

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Would the Snook Foundation be able to do anything??? I'm not up on who can help down in Florida, but they came to mind right off....Of cours, JJ would be in on that on, but either way, maybe we can let them know if they don't already?


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tox

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Reply with quote  #7 
For starters,
Sorry to hear about your situation down there. Been there, love the place, and it's just a flat out shame that most people can't see past the immediate buck to be made even when it has negative economic impacts over the long term.

I will bring this to the attention of a few connections I have down thattaway. Maybe it will help, I donno. I'm not any kind of somebody even in my town so I might not be any good for you over there but I'll reach out.

Letters, phone calls and emails are your first step. I will tell you that a hand written letter carries much more weight than any other "long distance" format when dealing with persons relying on votes to keep their job. (there is some kind of formula - for every person that takes the time to write and mail a letter, there are XX (50? 500? can't remember which) people that feel the same way and will vote as such. On the other end, a phone call is worth about 5 votes. Emails are probably less - they can be deleted without ever being read and it doesn't take any courage to type something and hit send.

Nothing is more effective than showing up at the meetings, signing up for public comment, and making your voice heard (and put on public record). Fill that hall with like minded, polite but clear stated friends and you become a megaphone with meaning. I've seen commissions who were waffling on topics end up voting unanimously in favor of what the biggest crowd articulated. Everyone likes a winner, and it creates a "us vs. them" atmosphere that politicians can't seem to pull away from. It's clear that meetings that are scheduled for the middle of a business day aren't meant to have your input. Anyone worth listening to probably has a job, right? Don't think this is an accident - you are behind the 8-ball before you say word one because even the meeting times are the result of politics and economics, with the intent of keeping locals with a brain (such as yourself) out of their business. Not your present commissioners fault, by the way, but the carpetbaggers of today benefit from the dealings of their savvy predecessors.

If you really want to make something happen, you simply have to be ready to get involved for the long haul. Don't wait for JJ or anybody else or you will always be sitting at the red light, shaking your fist at the traffic whizzing past your nose. There's no other way to put it, sacrifice is the only way you can beat these things. Time, time, time. Friendships, old favors, money - the cost is always high. I wish I had an easy answer but this is reality, and it is why so much of Florida is being ground under, homogenized, and left for dead within 20 years with nothing to show but some invasive weeds and a fucked up water table due to shitty long-term planning.

I guess I should slow down a bit, I don't know anything about your particular project other than what you posted here. I'll pass this along. If you want someone to contact you, include your phone number and email in this thread. Here's mine, feel free to call. I'm not the crotchity old man this post makes me look like, you've just hit on something that resonates. Good thing I don't have my drink on right now!

Brett@snookfoundation.org
561-707-8923

 Before I jump off, here's a couple things you can start to research. Maybe this is not worth the effort, maybe it is.
1. Public Access - will this deny public access to any areas deemed "public trust resources?" Surfrider has made this their mantra for years, and have been very successful using the fact that beaches are identified as such a resource. Your tax dollars go in some way to maintain them, and you have rights to access and use such resources. Is there an avenue for you in this area? Would the alteration of existing shoreline create a negative impact on "down flow" areas such as snorkeling reefs, fish nursery areas, bird rookeries, etc.? In the original permit, which is a public document, you should find some language on these kinds of thing, which might help you find areas to dig a little deeper.
2. Economics - Many of these projects slip through because a developer shows some skewed stats that suggest a big fat housing development brings $ while a swamp doesn't. If you have the brains and patience (or money to hire a forensic economist), you can usually show that the tax dollars brought in don't come close to the cost of infrastructure, increased public service needs, etc. On the other hand, if there is land that qualifies in any way as habitat for juvenile game fish or some other resource that contributes to the economy of Florida (yes, even tourism), the long term, trickle-down economics are huge. Think of a fishing lake that draws anglers. It supports a local bait shop, maybe a motel or two, etc. A family buys lunch at a local restaurant X% of the fishing trips to the area, gas at the local quickiemart, and so on. There is a formula for this too, and it is all out there and quantifiable but it is a lot of work, time, and probably money.
3. Finding allies. This might be the most critical part of these kinds of battles. Sierra Club might have sent a letter of position. 15 other orgs might have as well - find out who they are, and get them together. Become the hub of information, keep track of who has what resources. Emphasize the common goal any time old battle scars come up when these groups fought against each other for something (nothing is tougher on any environmental group than a different environmental group). Set up meetings with as many concerned folks as you can. If it weren't for meetings in the dark corner of shit hole pubs, we wouldn't have become the US of A when we did. It is where the action is and where worthwhile plans are made. (Even big biz today is the same, be it industrial or research or whatever. Conventions are useless until 5 PM when the execs meet in the hotel bar at 5 - THAT's when the important deals and decisions are made.)
4. Be ready to lose, and face the reality of what that means. But don't lose.




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tox

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Reply with quote  #8 
Slick, we'd be able to help get the word out but it is a bit outside our mission to throw ourselves into the battle. But our newsletter goes out to some 160,000 and many of them have interests other than "education, conservation and research" of gamefish and their habitats, so just maybe we'd be play a part in putting important hands together. I donno, anything else I say here would be talking out my ass (and it's already getting chapped).

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Mr Pilchard

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Reply with quote  #9 
Me and my buddies run to Chockoloskie quite often to fish and are very aware of the location you speak of. As Tox said - Letters are more powerful than e-mails and voice-mails. If you post a address to where the letters would do the most good - I/we will assist immediately. This makes me sick to my stomach...literally sick. 

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Live Rock

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Wow...Thanks Tox! I've already spread the word as I know Clyde Butcher is doing. It's amazing how difficult it is to find a county commissioner's mailing address. I will probably have to give the government center a call on Monday and the letter writing campaign will begin in earnest. 

Mr Pilchard, I share your sentiments! Makes me wonder what they'll screw up next.  

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SoFlaDave

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Reply with quote  #11 
According to the Collier County Board of County Commissioners website all correspondence to individual commissioners should be sent to -

(Commissioner's name)
Board of County Commissioners
3299 Tamiami Trail East, Suite 303
Naples, FL  34112-5746
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Live Rock

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Reply with quote  #12 
Awesome...thanks Dave!


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lil mofro ho

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Reply with quote  #13 
the mofro nation unites and helps each other out. 
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tox

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Reply with quote  #14 
Just heard from an insider. He suggested you become very familiar with the phrase "easement by prescription." He also said "sounds like one for the lawyers."

Do you know Mr. Butcher personally? I'd contact him, since he's already involved, and see what he thinks your best moves are. If he's already got things rolling in his head, he might be your best first contact.

Call me when you get the chance.


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Live Rock

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I asked my friend Gary who is a civil engineer in SW Florida where he thought this was going...he seems to think it will not go the developers way...

"I don't know, Randy. But I do know several things, both the property owners and the trust holding the access path from Calusa are mounting a legal opposition.

Improvements to Calusa to bring it up to county standards would involve a ROW expansion and permitting and a lot more money than the developer has rather than provide it from his own property.

Collier seems to have failed to address the access in the development order. So they are also on the hook, which makes Coletta's involvement make sense.

The Corps does not like developers who decide to be cute in trying to circumvent their permit process in fact they may hold them in contempt of the order and fine them. Most peoples arms are too short to duke it out with the Corps., as I suspect this guy is."


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Mr Pilchard

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Reply with quote  #16 
So what's the name of the commissioner that the letters should be addressed too?
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tox

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Reply with quote  #17 
Send the letter to each of them. They all vote - if you hit one, hit 'em all, and include the mayor as well.

Sounds like things are favorable but don't let your guard down. There are so many ways to lose these fights, you have to stand next to the coffin until the silver stake is pushed completely through and the lid is cemented shut.

From my far view though, it sure looks better than it did a few days ago.


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MofroFan1

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Reply with quote  #18 

Thank you again Live Rock for bringing this to our attention!

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Reply with quote  #19 


Tox - thanks for the info/battle plan... One reason I suggested the S.F. is that from what it sounds like, this would be oe of those impactful things on all wildlife in the immediate area. A group like that could help get things steered in the right direction.

 Not being familiar with the area, I'm just making some assumptions based on my limited knowledge of Florida, but also based on things that have happened recently in my own neck of the woods...


Quote:

The Corps does not like developers who decide to be cute in trying to circumvent their permit process in fact they may hold them in contempt of the order and fine them. Most peoples arms are too short to duke it out with the Corps., as I suspect this guy is."



Pretty much what happened here recently. On Lake Vermilion (my personal Lochloosa), there was a large tract of land owned by a mining company (not gonna name names). They wanted to sell the land off, as they had finally decided that they'd never get the go-ahead to mine there. Offer was made by a developer to put in something like 300 condo-type units, a marina, roads, trails, septic, etc..... developer didn't do his homework. The land is mostly granite once you get a few feet deep. Not easy to build on, much less do things like septic.
Well, his solution was to put a spetic tank big enough for all of those units IN THE WATER.... Now, being a fisherman, I already knew from friends of mine that are fishing guides on the Big V (as we like to call her), that the marina and docks were going into prime Musky spawning grounds. Now this goofball wanted to put a septic tank in the water too? Well, Muskies, Inc., the Lake Vermilion Sportsman's Society, I believe B.A.S.S., as wll as local citizen's organizations all got involved. Came to find out that this developer had another project further up the lake. Neither of them had had an Environmental Impact Study done. Without an EIS, you can't build anything more than a recretional cabin on the lake. SO... the Feds & State of MN got involved.... developer pulled out of both projects. One is bein sold off in indivdual lots. Not the bestsolution, but better than what it could have been.
However, the one that would cause issues for spawning, etc. of a major sports fish in that lake was then sold to the state... it is now in the process of becoming the first new State Park in over 30 years here in MN. The nice thng about it is that it is going to stay mostly undeveloped, save for a few needed buildings. No docks, no marina, all lakeside camp sites are primitive (no electric or water), and the only way to access them is hiking trails. It should be completed within a couple of years.


Maybe something like that could happen in this situation? Get the right people involved, the right groups with the $$ and lawyers to stop it, and then find a better solution for the problem.... One can only hope.

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Reply with quote  #20 

what a wonderful thread, you people are just amazing! 

Love to see everyone working together! 


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