by SC Reporter Reese Holiday
The Captiva Community Panel started off 2021 by nominating new officers in its Jan. 12 meeting to work with community members on the island’s most pressing issues.
Jay Brown was nominated as the new president for the CCP and will run the panel, and its meetings, for the remainder of the year. Brown is a retired business executive who lives full time on Captiva and is active in the U.S Power Squadron, Sanctuary Golf Club and the Captiva Island Yacht Club. After being nominated, Brown said he will enjoy taking on the responsibility as he has done it before.
“I think the panel is a great organization,” Brown said. “I’ve been the president once before in the past and enjoyed doing it, so I’ll be happy to take it on again.”
Joining him as the panel’s new officers are Vice President Antje Baumgarten, Secretary Michael Lanigan and Treasurer Tony Lapi. Looking at what they bring to the table, Baumgarten holds a master’s degree in economics, Lanigan spent 35 years in the investment banking industry and Lapi is the president and chairman of the Sanibel-Captiva Beach Resorts. All officers were nominated by fellow panel members and hold varying types of experience to represent Captiva.
To put their experience to the test, the panel discussed problems associated with making reservations for the COVID-19 vaccine. David Mintz, an active member of the panel, said Lee County is taking vaccine reservations for healthcare workers and those who are 65 years or older. Mintz said the problem with this is the county is receiving more reservations than they have shots, slowing down the vaccination process.
“You can get in with two ways,” Mintz said. “You can get in and actually get a reservation or you could leave your number and they will call you back and give you a reservation for some time in the future. They have so many people that are calling back now that they have more callbacks than vaccinations at this point.”
Mintz said Florida’s hospitalization rate has increased recently, following a similar trend as other parts of the country. In Sanibel, Mintz said cases continue to flood in, especially in the past four weeks, increasing the need for a vaccine.
“Hopefully, with more availability of vaccines, the 270,000 seniors in Lee County as well as all the health care and frontline workers will be able to get the vaccinations,” Mintz said.
Other problems with COVID-19 were raised when the panel discussion turned to the pedestrian problem on Blind Pass Bridge. The bridge is used by pedestrians, bikers and fishers, but cramped space has shown that fishermen often block the path for others with their trash and gear. Several panel members said this problem has been ongoing for years, with member Michael Mullins adding that a lot of the fishermen aren’t local.
“When I cross the bridge, I talk to people all the time and a large percentage of them are not from Lee County,” Mullins said.
Solutions in previous CCP meetings were discussed, including closing the bridge to fishing, but none have come to fruition. Mintz said Board of Lee County Commissioners Chairman Kevin Ruane will join the CCP on their Feb. 9 meeting to discuss the problem further. Mintz added that talking to Ruane, who is the former mayor of Sanibel, is the next step in solving the commotion on the Blind Pass Bridge.
“I think the appropriate path at this point is to explain to Kevin Ruane the importance of this to people on Captiva, particularly to those people who use the bridge,” Mintz said. “I think that’s the next step.”
Another ongoing problem that was discussed by the panel is the momentary outages experienced throughout Captiva. Tricia Dorn, the Key Account Executive at the Lee County Electric Cooperative, said that parts of Captiva experienced a common theme of momentary outages in November. She said while outages can be caused by a number of things, those in November were likely from the hurricane season.
“It looks like we had a common theme in November,” Dorn said. “We do show a theme with hurricanes showing damage or weakness to the electric system, even after the storm has passed. Based on the report that was provided to me, our records do indicate that there was an uptick in momentary outages throughout November.”
Dorn said vegetation falling on powerlines can also cause momentary outages. She added that while the LCEC doesn’t usually clear vegetation this time of year, they escalated their 2021 tree trimming after encouragement and concerns from both Sanibel and Captiva. Dorn said to call the LCEC if anyone on Captiva is experiencing outages so they can locate the problem and provide a solution.
“If you are experiencing reoccurring outages at your own business or residences, I would suggest you call in and place that with us,” Dorn said. “We’re going to come out there and look at the transformer, we can set a recorder, we can dive down to see what the real problem is.”
Other issues discussed by the CCP:
Captiva Erosion Prevention District:
• Holding a virtual townhall meeting in March to discuss their beach nourishment project with the community
• Joined the Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency compact in an effort to join local communities to work on sea level rise issues
Future Discussions with BOCC Chairman Kevin Ruane on Feb. 9:
• Funding for the central sewer engineering study
• The need to move forward with the Captiva Code Ordinance Proposals
• The Captiva sidewalk safety project
• Making the Roosevelt Channel an all year manatee zone
• Captiva has about 200 of the 600 petitions needed to form a Municipal Service Taxing Unit to fund the trapping of invasive green iguanas
• Petitions are due to Lee County by April 1
• If 600 petitions aren’t reached, trapping will likely have to be funded through donations
• Information about the petition can be found here
Sea Level Rise
• Sea level rise experienced on bayside areas of Captiva
• Discussion of purchasing water level measurement tools to help predict flooding