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, SEPTEMBER 27, 2001

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

 

Present:  Rob Andrys, Bill Bolek, Bill and MK Brewer, Susan Brookman, Bunky Bruce, Linda Bruce, Mike Buff, Anita Buff, Martin Call, Tom Colvin, Jean Colvin, James Conner, Rose Conner, Becky Crockett, Michael Dove, Bill English, Jim English, Kate English, JoAnne Fowler, Roxanne Gause, Sarah Gillim, Flo Ginter, Ken Ginter, Dodie Hall, Kacy Hall, Hugh Heiler, Roberta Heiler, Thomas Hobbs, Geri Hudkins, Nils Johnson, Doris Johnson, Lynda Kendrick, Donna Lang, David Lee, Pam Lewis, Jack Liddell, Kim Liddell, Walter McKee, Katy McKenney, Bob Oliver, Margaret Ottgen, Maria Pagan, Joyce Pileiski, Rick Pritchett, Lynne Pritchett, Bev Reese, Chaney Reese, Barb Rehm, Ken Rehm, Jamesine Riley, LaCene Robinson, Bobby Robinson, David Robson, Patricia Ross, Steve Sexton, Martha Shackleton, Andreia Siemienski, MaryAnn Spence, Ila Stapleton, Harry Stevens, Marion Stevens, Jennie Taylor, Rosie Taylor, Lori Thorn, Andy Tilton, Art Wiese, Ruthanne Wiese, Kathy Woolston, Priscilla Yerkes, and Herbert Zoellner.

 

President Sarah Gillim opened the meeting at 7:00 p.m., after which Lynda Kendrick presented a special program.  A retired POW/MIA flag has been obtained which will be flown with the American flag at the Alva Fire Department.  Cub Scout Troop Pack 16 has been formed at Alva Elementary School, and Cub Scoutmaster Dan Lange led the boys in bringing the American flag forward for the ceremony of transferring the POW/MIA flag.  Lt. Joey Tiner received it on behalf of the Alva Fire Department.

 

The President gave a brief summary of the last meeting of the Board of Directors.  We are now officially a corporation, and we are applying for our not-for-profit status with the IRS.  She thanked Lynn Fensterer and Susan Brookman for their work on finalizing the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation for ALVA Inc.  These can be reviewed on our web site (www.AlvaFL.org).  It was stressed that we must keep careful records of all our meetings (this is required by Lee County and the State of Florida); therefore, it is necessary that everyone sign in at each meeting.  The Alva Wayside Park was discussed, and although it was felt that we could maintain and clean the park, it was decided that we cannot assume full liability for the park.  This will be discussed further with the proper Lee County officials.

 

UPDATE ON FUNDING: At the September 25 meeting of the Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), the BOCC approved our request to go ahead with an Alva community plan.  They committed $25,000 to our project; however, we are receiving only $8,000 as seed money in order to begin our work.  We have to go back to the BOCC with a consensus on the boundaries of the planning area before we can obtain more money.  In talking with our professional planner, Carol Cunningham, Sarah Gillim was told that we should have this matter somewhat resolved before we begin the actual work of the plan.  This will be discussed at the next Director’s meeting.  At the general meeting on October 25, we may reconsider our boundaries. 

 

CONSERVATION 2020: Lynda Riley, Conservation Lands Program Coordinator from the Lee County Public Works Division of County Lands, explained the Conservation 2020 program.  In 1996, voters passed a referendum to increase their property taxes for seven years to purchase environmentally critical lands in Lee County.  This program has generated about $12 million per year in ad valorem taxes.  The BOCC formed a citizen advisory committee, called the Lee County Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC) to recommend nominated properties to be pursued for acquisition.  Applications for parcels must meet a minimum of four criteria out of the following: it contains documented environmentally sensitive lands; it is important for water resources; it is contiguous to natural navigable waters or protected environmentally sensitive lands; there is good potential for the long-term management and/or public use of the natural resources; the environmental qualities of the parcel are endangered; the owner will sell at or below market value; matching funds are available to purchase the parcel. So far, 7,500 acres have been acquired throughout the county. Another vote will probably be held in 2004 to decide whether to continue this program.  A question and answer period followed. The smallest parcel acquired has been 5 acres, and the largest 2,445 acres.

 

SW FL REGIONAL PLANNING COUNCIL: Wayne Daltry, Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, talked about rural initiatives and farmland preservation.  He presented a complete picture of how much land and water are necessary to support each human being on our planet and what we can expect in the future. If the whole county were platted and sold, the population would stabilize due to starvation.  Most of the land has to stay in open space to provide water and food for the population.  If we put a house on every lot that is platted, Lee County’s current population of 440,000 would grow to 1.6 million people.  We would need 2.8 million acres to be self-sufficient.  We would have to depend on other places to support our population.  He explained how much water we need to maintain life and to preserve agriculture.  For growing food, we need 2 cu.ft. of water for every square foot of irrigation.  We need 6 acres of run-off for every acre of irrigation.  The biggest challenge farmlands face today is that they do not make a profit due to too many taxes and competition from other countries.  He stated: “In order to preserve your farmlands, your community, and your lifestyle, you need your own community plan.  You must preserve your resources based on your water supply.”  He mentioned that some of the water flow of the Caloosahatchee is being diverting to the east coast of Florida.  We must decide how much land is going to stay in agriculture and how much can be used for urbanization.  This is done only through a community plan.  This creates value for your property.  Southern Florida is a scarce resource.  Alva is feeling the pinch not only from the direction of Ft. Myers,  but also LaBelle and Lehigh Acres.  Everything is heading our way, which presents a challenge. If we don’t plan now, expect a lot of rezoning.  Three-quarters of our area is still open space.  A question was raised about desalinization.  This is probably coming, but it is very costly, and it will impact our economic activities, and it will not solve agriculture’s need for water.   Another question was about construction jobs and unemployment. A figure of 65% was given for people in construction jobs; Mr. Daltry said that it was more like 27%.  He explained that what sustains Lee County are the retirees and the tourists.  If we have subdivisions with a density of greater than one unit per acre, then city water and sewage will be required.  He stated that if a person decides not to participate in a plan, his land would be planned anyway, so it is better when he has a say in the planning. The best use of our nation’s land is to have open land, which is what Alva has now.  He stated that the large property owners in our community will probably find that their land is most valuable if only small areas are converted from open lands to housing areas that offer buyers an upscale rural setting.  This would allow large property owners to sell some of their land and keep large amounts of it as natural areas.  We have to make sure that the water table does not get too low.  We need 52” of rainfall each year in order to maintain the acquifer.  Reservoirs were discussed.  Water loss from evaporation is greater with open reservoirs so water is better stored underground.  There is a lot of competition for the same water.  We should preserve our agricultural areas now in use through community wide planning because the water resource allocation is not being done locally but it is being done regionally. It is difficult to make everybody feel the worth of a plan and to participate in creating one that will please everyone.  He gave Sanibel as a good example of a community coming together and protecting their land with a community plan.  One of the first things we must do in our planning is to prepare a water budget for this area.  We must contact Lee County staff to see what can be done.  Asked about the land along SR 80, he stated that the real market is in stand-alone communities, but there will be some capture along the highway. He stated that the real strengths of Alva are its distance from the city, the fact that we have a community center already established, and we have historical buildings that are valuable. First of all, we must establish our boundaries. When asked what would be legitimate boundaries, he stated that the real boundaries should be the areas in which the landowners would mutually benefit and be in agreement with the general principles of the Alva plan.

 

TREASURER’S REPORT: Lynn Fensterer, Treasurer, presented her report.  The balance at our last meeting was $1,270.96.  Our total receipts since her last report were $1,589.00.  Disbursements were $908.89.  Our balance now is $1,951.07.  Everyone was encouraged to pay his dues.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

Agriculture: Chaney Reese reported that State officials are working on preserving agricultural land.  The Florida Senate passed Bill No.1758, which will provide farmers with incentives to keep their lands in agriculture.  Thanks to this Bill, farmers can be paid up to 60% of their appraised land value for conservation easements if they qualify for the program.  This program is approved up to 2011, and has $100 million set aside for it.  This is to prevent development on farmland that provides economic open space, water, and wildlife benefits. Although the farmer will be paid for his easement, he will still own the property and can continue to pass it on to his heirs, etc.  He just cannot sell his property for development.

Historical:  Pastor Bill Brewer and his committee are identifying historical places that should be preserved.  They are focusing on the Watkins house, which is the oldest house in Lee County, as to how to preserve it and perhaps have it moved to Caloosahatchee Regional Park.  The Alva United Methodist Church is the second oldest continuously used sanctuary in the state of Florida.  We have the Alva schools and the Museum.  They are considering ways to add more space to the Alva Museum.  Their next meeting will be at the Alva Diner at 7 p.m. on October 22.

Planning:  Rob Andrys asked that people send old or historical pictures to the web site and give them to Pastor Brewer.  We have to decide what we feel Alva is and how we are going to express it.  We need to create quality within the Alva area.  Growth is going to attack us on all sides, so we need to plan for the future now.  We need to concentrate on getting more 2020 land and more water.  JoAnne Fowler and Susan Brookman are heading a subcommittee on conservation efforts for Alva.  The Planning Committee is working on the traffic situation.

Fundraising, Membership:  Maria Pagan encouraged everyone to send in his membership application as soon as possible.  Lynda Kendrick reminded everyone that October 13 is our Alva Picnic at the Alva Community Park.  The purpose of the picnic is to help Alva folks get to know one another and to raise funds for ALVA, Inc.  Raffle tickets are available for $20 per strip of 10.  Rosie Taylor is the champion ticket seller to date. Beginning at 1 p.m., a drawing will be held every minute for an hour.  A husband and wife-calling contest will be held at 2 p.m.  The winner will receive a free night at the Marriott Courtyard.  The grand prizes will be drawn at 3 p.m.

Our Dinner and Barn Dance to honor all veterans of the Alva area will be held on November 10 at the Caloosahatchee Regional Park from 3 to 11 p.m. The Alva Fire Department will prepare the steak dinners. Tickets are $20 per person (remember this is a double fundraiser).  Proceeds will be split with the Alva Fire Department.  Great entertainment has been planned.  Everyone should bring his own chair and flashlight, so he can find his car afterwards.  After dropping off passengers, everyone is expected to park along the roadway inside the park.

 

Everyone was reminded that the next Board of Directors meeting will be held on October 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Alva Museum.  The next general meeting will be held on October 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the Alva Middle School.

 

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

 

Recorded by Jean W. Colvin, Acting Secretary

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