The Fort Myers Beach town council is gearing up to merge three of its volunteer citizen advisory boards at its next meeting June 6th. Members of one of those committees were perplexed to find out they were being dissolved, with one member saying the council was trying to get rid of them.
A new ordinance dissolving the three committees and creating a new one has already gone through one public hearing. The second public hearing will be held on June 6th, and, unless the proposed ordinance is pulled, three town committees will become one.
The committees to be dissolved are: The Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board (BORCAB), The Cultural Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board (CELCAB) and The Community Resources Advisory Board (CRAB).
There are 7 seats on the BORCAB committee (one is vacant), which deals primarily with Bay Oaks. There are 7 seats on the CELCAB committee, which deals primarily with The Mound House and Newton Park and there are 7 seats on the CRAB committee, which are all vacant. It’s unclear what the primary function of the CRAB committee is. There are two members of the BORCAB committee that are also on the CELCAB committee (Barbara Hill and Betty Simpson). Committee members are all volunteers and the only power they have is to make recommendations to the town council.
On Thursday a BORCAB, CELCAB joint meeting was held to discuss the committees merging. CELCAB member Cheri Smith said she felt very hurt that the merger was already a done deal with the town council. “It feels like we were not even considered before this came up for a vote. We’ve all worked very hard and as a resident, I would like the council to listen to us.”
CELCAB member Becky Werner agreed with Smith. “Four years ago the town council tried to get rid of us because they didn’t want to listen to us. That’s what this feels like. It feels like (we’re being told) ‘here’s what we’re going to do.’ Where was the notice.”
BORCAB member Bruce Butcher, a former town council member, said The Mound House and Bay Oaks are very different. “I don’t have any interest in the Mound House. I think they (the committees) ought to stay separate.”
CELCAB Chair Barbara Hill said, “I think we can all agree that maybe the timing is not right, that this might have been rushed, and maybe it wasn’t respectful to the citizens.”
After the discussion both the CELCAB and BORCAB committees voted unanimously to recommend to the town council that they table the idea of merging the committees for at least one more year.
Read the proposed ordinance HERE.
We’ll be carrying the June 6th Town Council meeting LIVE on our Facebook page HERE.
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