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Marco wildlife sheds a tear

One might think that the passage of a new protected species ordinance in the Jan. 7 City Council meeting would be great news for our wildlife. Regrettably, the new ordinance does not provide a sufficiently strong deterrent for the most egregious wildlife offenders.

There will still be people that will destroy our wildlife and their habitat. Though the $5,000 maximum fine possibility is not insignificant, there will be some offenders that will remain intent on taking shortcuts when developing their property. They may view a $5,000 fine as an acceptable cost of doing business; which, frankly, is unacceptable from an ecological perspective.

An ordinance with the possibility of jail time for the most egregious offenders after their third offense is required to get everyone’s attention and to save our wildlife.

Other Florida cities have already enacted similar wildlife ordinances offering the possibility of jail time for repeat offenders. For example, Cape Coral’s ordinance (also passed on Jan. 7) gives a punishment of up to 60 days’ jail time in Lee County Jail for repeat violators. Each day that a violation continues unfixed is considered a “separate and distinct” offense under the Cape Coral ordinance, encouraging swift remediation of any offending behavior.

It was disappointing that Councilman Reed chose to oppose the possibility of jail time for repeat offenders. Councilman Reed has been a strong community servant that works hard to research and study the issues confronting our city. He is an articulate advocate, if not a bit long-winded.  He unfortunately does not fully appreciate the environmental stresses facing our borrowing owls, gopher tortoises, and other threatened species that make Marco Island their home.

Charles Lamb, Marco Island

Foresight

During the period 2005 though 2008 there was negative publicity and criticism about the city’s plans to eliminate some 5,000 aging septic systems and put these homes on a central sewer system – which was the original intent of the Marco Island waste water design.

Prior members of City Council took a terrible public beating for their support for the elimination of septic systems on the Island. For some it resulted in a loss of personal business, for some it resulted in damages to their personal property, for some it resulted in serious health issues and for some it all but ended their political careers. They were all, however, driven by a desire and commitment to ensure that these failing septic systems would not eventually further pollute the waters of our Island.

If you read the article in this Sunday’s Naples Daily News entitled “Septic system problem merits state attention” it was noted that: the Florida Senate plans on closely regulating and monitoring septic systems as a way of monitoring their impact on the health of our water quality- this will include periodic inspections, implementing minimum standards for a functional septic system and demanding that homeowners repair or replace failing septic systems.

That “it’s a bitter, potentially expensive pill for millions of homeowners who are not connected to central sewer systems but, a necessary step to improve water quality.”

Although the recent water crisis was due to fertilizer use and agricultural run-off  it would be “unreasonable to assume that septic tanks aren’t part of the problem as well.”

As several local environmental groups have recently stated, “Marco Island’s program to eliminate septic systems was a critical action to reduce the impact on water quality issues.” One has to only imagine the additional impact that 5,000 failing septic systems and their dumping of untreated nutrients into our waterways for the past seven years would have had on the recent algae and water quality issues we have experienced.

I would personally like to recognize the following former members of City Council that showed the foresight, the courage, the commitment and the fortitude to implement the septic tank replacement program (the STRP) in the face of mounting and brutal criticism, personal attacks and even recall movements. They are, Dr. William Trotter, Vickie Kelber, Glenn Tucker, Michael Minozzi, Frank Recker, Wayne Waldack, Rob Popoff and Gerry Gibson as well as former City Manager William Moss. They all knew that to simply allow our waters to become polluted would require, if at all possible, massive resources to mitigate the pollution impact on our property values and quality of life.

My only regret is that several of these people are no longer with us to see the fruits of their suffering.

John Arceri, Marco Island

 

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