Guest Commentary: Support the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Political Committee

We, the voters of Marco Island have an opportunity to have our voices heard. By voter referendum the citizens can compel that the City abide by our wishes. Our city officials are elected based on promises they make to us while campaigning. Once they are elected, all too often, they see their own “grand design” for how they want Marco Island to be. To our dismay, their campaign promises no longer seem to matter. A group of Marco Islanders have formed the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Political Committee (MES PC) and found a means in which registered voters of Marco Island can be guaranteed that City officials proceed in the manner we desire.

In a few days, a petition will be mailed to citizens residing in various sections of our island. After this petition is signed and returned, an ordinance will be placed on the ballot for the November 2012 election. The ordinance, once voted upon and passed, will obligate the City to fulfill the requirements of the referendum. In order to place this ordinance on the ballot, the MES PC was required to comply with numerous regulations in the City Charter. The MES PC was determined to make sure that all City requirements were met and all Florida State Mandates were fulfilled. They consulted and paid for the services of attorneys specializing in these matters. This was an effort of committed citizens who want their voices heard and to be successful in changing city policy. Now, it is YOUR turn to take action and change city policy as a citizen and a registered voter. Simply sign and mail the petition in the provided return envelope.

I want to emphasize that the petition will give you the opportunity to have your voice heard, yes or no, in November of 2012. This requires you to act now on this petition. At one time, all of Marco Island was a sanctuary for the eagles. The petition involves the disposition of the property at 665 Tigertail Court, currently known as the Marco Eagle Sanctuary. This property is the largest parcel of undeveloped residential land on the island and has been the home of nesting bald eagles for 20 years. The bald eagle is a state and federally protected species requiring a minimum 330’ protective barrier around the nest tree. The bald eagle is the symbol for the United States of America. This property should be maintained for the eagles as an eco-park for all Marco islanders and tourists to enjoy. The proponents of the petition oppose development of this property for any purpose that would threaten the eagles or change their natural setting.

The purpose of the petition is to place an ordinance on the ballot stating that IF the city ever comes into ownership of this property located at 665 Tigertail Court, that the city would be required to keep the property as an eagle sanctuary and eco-park. The Collier County School District owns this property and has acquired environmental studies which have determined that this property is environmentally sensitive due to the existence of an active bald eagle nest. This property is being leased by the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation (a separate entity from the MES PC) and the proceeds from the lease are used to the benefit of the school district. This referendum is important should the school district ever convey this property to the City. Regardless of this possibility, the referendum does not require the City to purchase the property. It only states that IF the City ever comes into possession of the property, the city must preserve it as an eagle sanctuary and eco-park. It does not require any outlay of funds by the tax payer.

Here is an opportunity for all citizens to control the destiny of our island’s reputation as an eagle sanctuary. This nest is unique. Nowhere else can the public be so “up and close” to an active eagle nest with such ease at viewing all of eagle’s activity. The eagles were named Paleo and Calusa last May by the students of the Tommy Barfield Elementary. Whether you are for or against preserving this property, sign the petition. It gives us, the citizens, the right to determine what we want rather than leaving that decision to a small group of seven. After the required number of petitions has been collected, the ordinance can be placed on the ballot. On the November 2012 election day, we the citizens will have a real opportunity to have our voices heard.

Registered voters who do not receive a petition in the mail and still wish to sign one can go to the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation website at www.marcoeaglesanctuaryfoundation.org. The petition can be downloaded, signed and mailed to: Marco Eagle Sanctuary PC, P.O. Box 1103, Marco Island, FL 34146.

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