The January 8, 2021 meeting of the ECCL was held virtually on Zoom. The featured speaker was Lee County Commission Chairman Kevin Ruane. You can watch the video or read the summary below.

President Jim Gilmartin opened the 200th membership meeting of the ECCL.  In recognition of this milestone, he reminded everyone of the efforts made by Don Eslick and Nick Batos in initially forming the organization and helping in its development. Their efforts have ensured the high level of respect afforded the ECCL, which is focused on helping to make the greater Estero area the best place to live, work, and play

This month the guest speaker was recently elected Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane. Living in Sanibel since 2004, Commissioner Ruane will serve District 1. He was also elected Chairperson of the Board of County Commissioners.

After a brief recap of his past governmental involvement, he stated his commitment to government clarity and transparency and emphasized protecting the environment. In response to the Zoom audience’s questions, he stated that Conservation 20/20 funding for maintenance is vital to keep the properties open for public use.

Water quality is high on his list of priorities, and he has been active on this topic at the County, state, and national levels. Each community has to deal with and contribute to water quality in its area, whether septic conversions, control of fertilization, or testing. About concerns expressed about the levels of pollution in the Estero River and Estero Bay, he pointed out that while this is primarily an issue that the Estero Village needs to address, he would be willing to assist if required. The issue of algae blooms was discussed, and several suggestions were made that could be adopted in the greater Estero area based on several initiatives taken in Sanibel. The ECCL has suggested that further dialogue on this issue would be helpful and beneficial.

Commissioner Ruane also answered a question about the roll-out of the Covid 19 Vaccine. While recognizing initial failings, he explained the processes which were now in place. The site set up near the old terminal building at RSW airport can vaccinate 330 people per hour at the 20 stations there. The system can administer vaccinations to up to 9,000 people per week, and all that is needed is the supply!

Because the 275,000 doses supplied by the federal government had to be shared amongst the 67 counties in Florida, Lee County has done well in being placed 4th in terms of the total number of people vaccinated to date. Commissioner Ruane stated the more people vaccinated, the more the County is rewarded. There is no incentive not to vaccinate. He felt that if Lee Health and the emergency management department set up in Lee County received more vaccines (the aim would be 10,000 each per week), there would be a significant dent in the effort to vaccinate the local population.

(If you log on to www.esterotoday.com and go to the recording of the Meeting of January 8, you can listen to Commissioner Ruane’s full answer by going to the period on the recording from 14.01 to 22.18 )

In his report, President Gilmartin shared a summary of the ECCL Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025. The Strategic Thinking and Planning Committee’s work is a well thought out extensive document. Following acceptance of the plan by the ECCL Board, a summary of the plan will be available on our website. It was also noted that The Forever Foundation, of which the ECCL is a member and donor, made a $5,000 donation to the Estero Historical Society.

President Gilmartin also shared the rationale and benefits to the ECCL to apply to the Internal Revenue Service to change the organization from a 501(c)4 to a 501(c)3 status. We will apply shortly. It may take six to twelve months for approval.

Council Reports:

Plans are in the works for special Zoom meetings on topics of general civic related interest.

Education: Veteran’s Pocket Park Design awards to be announced at Estero High School shortly. The awards are based on the survey of the designs completed by over 500 residents. More to come.

Transportation: There has been a discussion of expanding the Adopt-A-Highway program to Estero Parkway

Finance: The calendar year ended with a surplus. Two thousand twenty-one invoices have been mailed, and 25% returned.

Membership: The Grandezza Residential Community has rejoined the ECCL.

Communications: The upcoming Greater Estero Community Report will include articles on global warming and the positive impact of helping to improve our educational standards

Work is beginning on a brochure promoting the ECCL with a targeted audience of new residents, realtors, and development managers.

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