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An Open Letter to the Fort Myers Beach Community

November 20, 2019
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

It has been an honor to serve this wonderful community for the past 12 years on both advisory committees and as a Councilmember. It is now time to let others step up and lead while I step back, find a comfy beach chair and relax! I will not be seeking re-election to Town Council.

My husband and I first vacationed here with our young children in 1986. It was love at first sight! We bought our island home in 2004 when the youngest was in college.

My love of the beach, the people, the old structures and the community character quickly led to serving as Chair of the Marine Resources Task Force, the LPA, the Historic Advisory Board and Vice-Chair of the Historic Advisory Council. It was next an honor to next be appointed to Town Council in December of 2015 and elected by the voters in March 2016.

Although I did not live here at the time of incorporation, along the way I studied and became an avid supporter of the Town's vision as expressed in the Comprehensive Plan. Throughout my years of service I have consistently strived to use it as a basis for policy making so that all sectors and interests in the town are fairly considered and balanced.

I have a particular concern for preservation of the critical and unique assets of our island -- the water, the beach and bayfront, the quiet family residential neighborhoods -- and how tourism can succeed without destroying the essence of who we are as a community. Those passions remain and always will!

As the next election approaches, the citizens should know that the Town is in a strong and stable financial position, is benefitting from the leadership and management of a highly experienced Town Manager, and is sitting ready to complete the visions for bayfront square, heart of the island, Times Square, the boulevard and the downtown core.

Policy is in place for the quiet neighborhoods to determine and protect their character with options for neighborhood parks, canal dredging and enforcement of short term rental regulations.

The town is standing with neighboring municipalities to improve water quality and is being an environmental steward with control of fertilizers, storm water and single use plastics. More can and should be done to continue to strictly protect our beach and island environment.

While the decision to not seek re-election has been a difficult one, I want to announce it early so that other qualified members of the community have ample time to step up and run for Council, prepare their campaigns and enter what I hope will be a respectful and issue- oriented conversation about the direction of our town during this time of re-development and environmental challenge.

Thank you so much for your support, input and even respectful disagreement during my time on Town Council. The debate has always helped me see both sides of every issue while trying to reach sensible and equitable decisions on public policy. It has been an education!

Next March I shall enjoy watching other passionate islanders take the helm. I wish them fair winds and wisdom in plotting the course.

I will pick again pick up my paint brush and tennis racquet, and take more frequent hand-in-hand walks with my husband as we make plans to check more destinations and goals off of our bucket list.

See you on the beach!

Your fellow islander,

Joanne Shamp

Fort Myers Beach



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