A Conversation with
Our New Councilman
Residents attending the next Town Council meeting will see a new face up on the dais. Mango Street Inn owner Dan Andre was sworn in last week to fill the empty seat left when Larry Kiker stepped down to run for county commission. Andre, an island resident for five years, was chosen from 11 applicants by the council to fill a seat until the March election, at which point he will have to compete for the seat with anyone else who wants to run. We sat down with Andre this week to find out why he wanted to be on Town Council and what he would like to accomplish in the coming months.
"For years, my wife Tree and I vacationed in southwest Florida,” he said. "It was always our dream to live on the beach and run a bed and breakfast, and we were blessed to realize our dream almost five years ago when we found a rather undesirable property and had a vision. After many months of hard work we turned that property into the Mango Street Inn.”
Dan and his wife, Tree, came to our emerald shores via a pretty long and winding road that includes owning a resort in Ambergris Caye, Belize and a kitchen remodeling business in Virginia.
"When we left Belize and went back to Virginia, we decided to find the perfect spot in Florida for our bed and breakfast,” he told us.
That journey took them all around the state - from Pensacola to Key West - and lasted five years. Almost immediately upon arriving on our beautiful island, Dan became active in the community.
"We jumped into the community with the same passion and commitment that we put into the development of our business,” he said. "We love this island and this community. Within months I was on the board of directors of the Friends of Matanzas Pass Preserve.”
Andre has also served as Vice Chairman of the Marine Resources Advisory Board and on the Local Planning Agency. One of the things of which he is particularly proud of is his success in getting recycling bins installed at the beach accesses.
"It took two years, some pretty dogged determination by me, but with the help of staff and public works, we got it done,” he said. "Did you know that if you can reduce your solid waste stream by 20% it is considered very successful. The study done by Public Works after the recycling bins were installed reduced the waste stream by over 40%.”
Dan told us that he always planned to run for council, so when this opportunity presented itself it seemed a perfect fit.
"One of the reasons I wanted to join this council is because I liked the direction it was going in, and I intend to maintain that momentum and consistency,” he said. "I want to continue working on Estero Boulevard and the water system. I’m looking forward to working with the Community Resources Advisory Board on redesigning the beach accesses to polish up our image a bit but still ‘keep it funky’ like they decided at last year’s visioning workshop.”
Andre told us that a couple of things he’d like to personally work on while on council is the creation of a code of conduct for long-term renters (currently, such a code exists for short-term rentals only) and fairness in the way the Town deals with seasonal parking lots.
"It’s my understanding that, after three years, they have to become a regular lot like Chuck did at Chuck’s Last Stop,” he said. "But I’ve seen some of these people come back year after year, make their money during season and then leave the lot all overgrown with weeds the rest of the year. It’s not fair to people like Chuck who invest in the community because they don’t do anything for our community except put a strain on our Public Works department.”
Andre finished by saying that he looks forward to working for the residents of the town he’s come to love, and that folks can expect him to be a fair and level-headed councilman.
"I am logical and open-minded,” he said. "I believe in fiscal responsibility, conservation and integrity.”
"I would like to be further involved in the future of Fort Myers Beach. I want our development, redevelopment and revitalization to be carefully managed. Respect our beach, respect our community, respect our businesses and respect our environment.”
Keri Hendry Weeg