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Editorial 676

Missy Layfield - Editor

That Red Stuff

Our cool weather has kept many folks off the beach this week, so some may be surprised when they do head to the beach at all "that red stuff.” Looks like seaweed – but isn’t.That red stuff, my friends is a lasting reminder of last summer’s water dump from Lake Okeechobee.

For our visitors who may not be aware, last summer’s rainy season here in Florida was more prolific than normal and resulted in Lake O rising to levels that resulted in the Army Corps of Engineers, who manage the Lake, increasing the water flow out of the lake, eventually throwing all the gates wide open to drain the Lake as fast as they could. This sent about 814 million gallons of lake water into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers, nearly an 80% increase over normal rainy season releases. The Caloosahatchee gets the lion’s share of these releases along with the pollutants the water carries, including nitrogen and phosphorous.

The red stuff is red drift algae-algae that just loves nitrogen and phosphorous. It’s not red tide. It’s not harmful. Because it can be stinky, the Town has cleared the beach of the algae at least once and will again if needed.

Don’t let the algae or the cool temperatures keep you from enjoying our beach, though. Whether it’s 55 or 75 degrees, a walk along the beach is why you’re here, isn’t it? Our country is filled with beautiful beaches from Maine to Oregon and people flock to them summer and winter. Don’t let a little chill keep you from a soul-soothing beach walk right here on our island.

Chilly Beach Activities

We have an island full of visitors looking for things to do since our cooler weather has hung on for a while. While it’s normally hard to drag yourself away from the beach, this is a golden opportunity to take advantage of some of our indoor Island activities. So after your daily beach walk, head over to the Mound House on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday from 10am-2pm for a tour of this historic site. Don’t miss the underground exhibit of a Calusa Indian shell mound!

Spend an hour or two enjoying the arts at the Fort Myers Beach Art Association Gallery located at Donora and Shell Mound. They have their best show of the season up right now and admission is free! They’re open 10am-3pm every day but Sunday when it’s Noon-3pm.

On Wednesday and Saturday mornings from 10-noon, you can get a glimpse of our Island’s history at the Historic Cottage on Bay Road. If you can’t make it on a day they’re open, grab your smartphone and pick up a QR code historic tour map, "Footprints in Time” at the library or our office and take a leisurely stroll around our island learning about our unique Island history.

Try a yoga or fitness class. Play some bingo or poker or rummy. Learn something new at a Beach Library class.

All of your favorite pubs and restaurants are open-don’t let the chill keep you inside. They’ll drop the curtains and make sure you’re toasty warm as you enjoy some live music and your favorite beverage!

These are just a few things to enjoy this week -- pick up an Entertainment Magazine with a daily listing of all there is to do on the Island. Whether it’s warm or cool outside, this Island has plenty for visitors to enjoy!

Town Hall

Town Council has selected a new Interim Town Manager, Don Stilwell. A developer is suing the Town. Our Council is at odds over how to rectify the whole elevated pool issue with the least amount of damage to the Town and its residents. We have had an unusually smooth last few years at council meetings, so the increasing disruptions from spectators and tension amongst council members is a disturbing trend backwards for our community.

Robust discussion of a variety of opinions is healthy. But it requires respect from all parties. When that respect is missing, we all suffer from less than efficient governance.

There are two public comment periods offered during council meetings. It’s your right as a citizen and resident of our Town to utilize your full 3 minutes of time, but only 3 minutes. We all want to hear what you think, especially the Council. Keep in mind though, it’s a comment period-not a question and answer session where you get to ask staff or council members questions and expect to get answers. Sometimes council or staff will attempt to answer questions posed during Public Comment.They’re not required to do so.

Once a resident has had their say, however, they need to sit respectfully for the remainder of the meeting, or leave the chambers. Not shout out comments, or mutter loudly or clap or boo.This isn’t a game show or 6th grade; this is an official public meeting of the duly elected representatives of our Town. They listen respectfully to residents’ comments. They deserve respect during their deliberations. We don’t have to agree with them. We don’t have to like them. We are expected to sit quietly while they conduct the business of the Town.

There aren’t too many other official government meetings where you’d get away with disrupting a meeting without a quick invitation to leave the premises. It would be a sad situation if the Town had to pay for a deputy to help keep order during Council meetings.

This is Fort Myers Beach. We celebrate our community as a funky little town full of quirky people.Normally we’re also polite and respectful of each other. And willing to work with each other to find solutions.

Hopefully we find our way back to that normal soon.

Missy Layfield