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Setting the record straight on incorporation

November 15, 2017
Pine Island Eagle

To the editor:

There have been a few letters over the summer and this fall that have given the wrong impression on our need to incorporate. Hopefully this letter will set the record straight.

Michael Dreikorn, Bokeelia, is 100 percent right in his recent "Pine Island Strong" Facebook comment: "The entirety of this incorporation issue is to keep the island community from being annexed into Cape Coral... this is a clear and present possibility. Incorporation of the island will protect our existing border lines, but only continued civic engagement will ensure minimal government and taxes... If any citizen thinks they can sit back and do nothing and expect things to remain the same, they are misinterpreting the nature of change in Lee County."

I would only add the following. Cape Coral has zero interest in Matlacha & Pine Island except as a source of increased revenue and spending. Just consider the following:

1) Cape Coral removed the Ceitus Barrier which has virtually destroyed the Matlacha estuary and they have blocked all efforts to rebuild it.

2) Cape Coral wants to remove the lock to the south that will cause further environmental damage to our estuaries.

3) Cape Coral bought the D&D Bait property and acted as a land speculator paying for it with Water & Sewer funds. Cape Coral then annexed the property without any residents petitioning Cape Coral to be annexed. They did this for their Seven Islands project.

All of which appears to be unethical at best and illegal at worst.

Civic engagement by Pine Island & Matlacha residents has 0 percent chance of success against the power of Cape Coral, the power of Lee County and the power of land developers.

It is important to "count the votes" in politics. Pine Island used to have 3 votes out of 5 on the Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) trying to protect Pine Island. It appears to me that we now only have 1 BOCC vote to protect the Pine Island & Matlacha way of life. Incorporating is our only objective way to protect our "Old Florida" way of life.

Lastly, some Pine Islanders have asked the great question: "What would Phil Buchanan do?" I had the distinct privilege of working with Phil on the most recent Pine Island Plan revision. It was very clear to us that the Lee County staff does not have much knowledge of why Pine Islanders live and visit this unique island and therefore have little interest in preserving one of the last remnants of "Old Florida" in our area. Phil begrudgingly knew many Pine Islanders were not interested in incorporating in the past. He said, "It'll take something major to change their minds." The last revision to the Pine Island Plan by Lee County, the removal of the Ceitus Barrier by Cape Coral, the proposed removal of the southern lock by Cape Coral and the illegal purchase & annexation of Matlacha property by Cape Coral should all be viewed by Matlacha & Pine Islanders as "something major" that Phil Buchanan would have pointed to and the majority of Matlacha & Pine Islanders will use to justify incorporation.

For more information on this critically important issue, check out, the "Pine Island Strong" Facebook page or contact some of our island's informed residents on this issue: Roger Wood, Michael Dreikorn and Michael Hannon.

Mike Downing

St. James City



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