Dedicated to preserving the tranquility and beauty of Alva

P.O.  Box 2022, Alva, FL 33920 

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MINUTES OF ALVA TOWN MEETING, AUGUST 23, 2001

7:00 P.M., ALVA MIDDLE SCHOOL AUDITORIUM

 

The President, Sarah Gillim, opened the meeting with a brief outline of the last meeting of the Board of Directors.  The By-Laws were reviewed and a few changes made; Susan Brookman has kindly offered to retype them for us. These will be placed on our web page for review and comment by the membership, and it is hoped that they will be finalized at the next Board meeting.  Our address is now P.O. Box 2022, Alva, Florida 33920.  At our next town meeting, Wayne Daltry from the SW Florida Regional Planning Council will speak about farmland preservation and state rural initiatives. All financial disclosure forms from the members (those who have paid their membership dues) on the Board of Directors must be given to Sarah before her meeting with the Commissioners on August 28 to discuss funding for ALVA, Inc.

 

TREASURER’S REPORT: Lynn Fensterer, Treasurer, reported that at our last meeting, our balance was $1364.85.  Total deposits since her last report were $330.00.  Disbursements, which included seed money for the Alva T-shirts of $175, were $423.89.  We expect the seed money to be returned, so we will have a balance of $1445.96.  She has sent off all the papers and the Articles of Incorporation are now in Tallahassee.  We are awaiting the certified copy.  She congratulated Sarah Gillim for her efforts on behalf of our group.

 

As requested at our last meeting, Mike Dove invited representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to attend the meeting tonight.  Karen Estock and Steve Dunham from the Clewiston office, and Larry Wright (real estate specialist) and Michelle Wolfe (attorney) were present to speak to us.  We were waiting for the arrival of our Commissioner, John Albion, so Sarah proceeded to receive committee reports.

 

Fundraising:  Lynda Kendricks and Maria Pagan have done a fantastic job with this committee.  The Alva Community Picnic will be at the Alva Community Park, located behind the Alva Middle School, on September 15. 100# of hot dogs have been donated; Kash & Karry is working on the sodas; Steve from the Alva Diner is getting the buns.  The white elephant sale will begin at 8 a.m. (if anyone has donations, please contact Lynda); 10 a.m. will be the parents and kids softball game; there will be many games, a clown, face-painting, races, etc.; noon to 2 p.m will be karaoke; 1 p.m. the drawings for the raffles will begin; the grand prizes will be drawn at 3 p.m. You must be present to win a prize.  Raffles will be 1 for $2, 3 for $5, and 8 for $10. At 2 p.m., there will be a husband and wife calling contest.  First Grand Prize will be a complete r/o house water system installed; second will be a Night to Remember, and third will be a champagne hot air balloon ride. Lynda modeled the Alva T-shirt, and will take orders after the meeting.

A Barn Dance is planned for November 10.  Lynda asked that everyone who knows a veteran, deceased or living, from Alva to please give her the name.  All veterans will be honored at the dance, and she is hoping to have the Alva Middle School Band play a tribute for the veterans.

 

Planning:  Rob Andrys reported that they are starting to prioritize what should be done. SR 80 is now being surveyed in order to make revisions that will be incorporated in the plans for the highway in September. Anything that we want to see happen along SR 80, we should make our input to the State DOT now.  A sub-committee is working with DOT to find out where everything will be and where intersections will be placed, and where sidewalks or walkways should be placed.  One is needed from SR 80 to the schools; something is needed along Rt. 78 up to the Regional Park. We need to figure out what to do with the Wayside Park on SR 80.  They are looking for good oak trees to plant. They hope to have as much information as possible by fall when a big charrette will be coming up.

 

Alva Cemetery: Commissioner Albion brought us up to date on the Alva Cemetery.  Right now, we need to have the plat recorded and we need to have the sub-division requirements set aside.  Attorney Hank Hendry has been advising his office about the cemetery since he has a family connection with the cemetery. Things have changed over the last 50 years, and the title to the Cemetery must be cleaned up to maintain a consistency in its wording.  On the plat it states that the roads should be dedicated to Lee County. This should be removed from the plat. The State requires registration with Florida Banking and Finance, and also the recording of a declaration of restrictions.  This is a local cemetery and not a county cemetery.  As soon as these points are cleared up, there should be no further problems with the expansion of the cemetery.  The County Attorney’s office and Hank Hendry’s office are working together on this.  Mr. Albion stated that all of this could be accomplished within a week.  Before he left, he committed himself to having everything straightened out by Labor Day.  Jim English came forward and presented a history of the cemetery.  A board of trustees has been operating the cemetery since 1889. David Bull reported that the applications to Florida Banking and Finance have been submitted.  Anyone can call Mr. Albion’s office to find out the status of the cemetery.

 

Alva Wayside Park: Mr. Albion discussed his meeting with Lynda Kendricks. After discussing the cemetery, they discussed the Alva Wayside Park. Habitat for Humanity is willing to return the park to the county. That is no problem. Mr. Albion feels that it would be better for Habitat to deed the park over to a non-profit entity in Alva directly rather than go through the county and DO. In this way, the property would be exempt from real estate taxes.  Sarah stated that this would be discussed at the Board of Directors meeting, but we needed to proceed with the meeting. Mr. Albion was thanked for taking time to come to the meeting and to present his recommendations on the cemetery and park.

 

Army Corps of Engineers: The representatives were introduced. Sarah expressed the community’s interest in the Corps right of way and easements along the Caloosahatchee River. 

A handout by the Corps of Engineers  was given to those attending the meeting about the Okeechobee Waterway Federal Right-of-Way. Answers were given to the questions: What are the Government’s rights in the right-of-way of the Okeechobee Waterway?  What is not allowed on the right-of-way?  What is allowed on the right-of-way? and How do I apply for a permit/consent to easement?  On the last one, plan applicants can contact the South Florida Operations Office at 863-983-8101 or the W.P. Franklin Visitor Center at 941-694-2582.

 

Karen Estock, Chief of the Field and Readiness Office located at Clewiston, spoke about the responsibilities of the Corps in our area. She is the supervisor of the people who work at the Locks and the rangers who work at the recreational campgrounds.  Her office is in charge of flood control for the district.  The office has a staff of four biologists who handle the environmental plant control along the rivers.  She introduced her supervisor, Steve, and the two representatives from the Jacksonville office. They all came to assist with questions from the local standpoint.  Some of the questions brought up included who was responsible for maintaining the oxbows so they would drain properly, erosion of high banks, control of exotic plants along the river; and how to determine their easements along the river.  From a dredging standpoint, the Corps is mandated only to maintain a 100’ wide channel in the river with a minimum of 8’ depth.  Anything outside that channel cannot be dredged by the U.S.A.C.O.E.  There are 52 culverts that they operate and maintain. They clean only in front of the culverts. Later on in the meeting, Karen stated that they would investigate the possibility of keeping the oxbows clear. Right now, they cannot do anything about them. She pointed out that the St. Lucie Canal is in much worse shape with bank erosion than anything in the LaBelle/Alva area. They made a study of their problem and presented it to Congress, but it did not make the budget, so they could not do anything about it. Docks built along the river have certain restrictions placed on them. They were supposed to keep all the easements mowed twice a year; however, budget cuts have kept them from doing this, so in many areas the exotic plants (Brazilian peppers) are taking over.

 

One member brought up the destruction of Jim English's citrus trees which were planted on the easement and wondered  how they were interfering with maintenance and access to the waterway.  According to the Corps representatives no commercial agriculture is allowed on the easement.  In the 1960's the property owners along the river were paid for the easements on the property.  Already established orange groves were left alone, but no new groves were to be planted.  The Corps representatives said the Corps had been corresponding with the English family for 1-1/2 years prior to the destruction of the trees.  Mr. English stated that his original grove had been killed by a citrus disease introduced from abroad and that he was forced to replant the grove.  He claimed he tried to work out a waiver with the Corps since he felt the grove did not interfere with easement access or the waterway.  One member of the audience wondered why tax dollars were spent destroying private property when the Corps did not have enough money to clean up the dense exotic vegetation on other easements.  The Corps representatives will be going out to Mr. English's property in the morning to re-evaluate the situation.

 

The Corps representatives said they could do more work if they had enough money.  If we feel that something should be done about the exotics and oxbows, we should write to our congressional representatives and request funds for this work.  If anyone wants to maintain or dredge anything outside the 100’ strip of river, he can apply for a permit from DEP but he will have to pay for the work himself. Anything over 500 cubic yards requires a dredge and fill permit. At Port Mayaca Lock, there is a shoal within the Corps 100’ channel.  They have been trying for two years to get a permit from DEP to dredge.  It has been denied.  They will have to use a suction dredge, which will cost $300,000, to move the shoal.  The Corps must follow certain rules and guidelines established by the U.S. Government in order to use Government money. They have no provision for erosion control now.  Jacksonville has a 200-person team working on a 20-year Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan that covers Lee, Hendry and Glades counties. The Southwest Florida Water Management out of West Palm Beach is also working with this project. For more information, they referred people to the CERP website at www.evergladesplan.org.

 

The Corps representatives were thanked for their presentation. Those who had further questions for them were asked to see them after the meeting.  Sarah reminded everyone about the Board of Directors meeting at the Alva Museum on September 13.  The next town meeting will be on September 27 at the Alva Middle School.

 

Recorded by Jean W. Colvin, Acting Secretary

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