In our Tuesday newsletter Estero Boulevard resident Eddie Rood took aim at Fort Myers Beach Town Councilman Jim Atterholt after Atterholt said settling the dune walkover issue was not in the public interest. Atterholt has responded to Rood’s comments. Here’s what he had to say.
To get readers up to speed, here’s what Mr. Rood said after Monday’s meeting: “Jim Atterholt ran for council on the platform and stated at every public forum he was not willing to risk the loss of the CWA and would vote in favor of the walkover and now has changed his mind since he drank the Audubon’s Kool-Aid.”
Councilman Atterholt responded to that accusation: “Just to be clear, I never said during the campaign that I would vote for the dune walkover. I said I would weigh the risks to the Town and to the Critical Wild Area. Many hours were spent studying this issue and listening to both sides. I have done so respectfully and voted no.”
The town councilman then cited an article from the February 28, 2020 Sandpaper in which the paper covered the candidate forum at St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church. Question, “What is your opinion about the controversial private dune walkover near the Critical Wildlife Area? “I was part of that 7-0 LPA vote. The property owners have top legal counsel and now claim the CWA may be illegal. My wife and I live near there and walk along the shore every day and want to preserve it, but with the CWA in question we need to proceed cautiously, with many questions still to answer.”
The Observer Newspaper covering the same debate and Atterholt’s response: “The applicants have spent a lot of money on legal counsel. Their threatened challenge to the formation of the CWA could cause a legal free for all as to what occurs next. I don’t know that’s going to happen but that’s a litigation risk we have to take seriously and make sure our legal position is solid before we proceed and we should proceed cautiously on this.”
Note: Town Attorney John Herin believes the town has a solid case.
Atterholt also cited an article from The Observer in March, covering another candidate forum, about the issue: “I am blessed to live right on the CWA in the Bermuda Dunes Condos and I have a deep affection and appreciation for the preserve. I currently volunteer to serve the town as a member of the LPA. A few months back we voted 7-0 in favor of the applicants. I did not casually dismiss the environmental concerns that have been raised. I was concerned and continue to be concerned that the applicants have information that could lead to the dissolution of the CWA due to potential procedural errors in its formation. As this now heads to litigation, I am concerned that the Town has won the battle but lost the war when it comes to protecting the CWA.”