The letter headlined “The Saga of” in the May 1 issue contained a series of unsubstantiated charges (Sunday confrontation) and misleading example (parkway plantings) which impeached the conduct of Gilchrist residents in the pursuit of our attempt to redeem the historic landscape architecture of the median on which we live. While the issue has stirred public sentiment we have striven to maintain a civil dialogue and accurate presentation of our posItion. To these ends I am writing to disabuse your readers of the accusations of contrary behavior.
Letter Comments: “It is an insult by the GNA (Gilchrist Neighborhood Association) to advise the community and the county to (1) redo the fifth street parking after (2) their takeover (curb lawns) of existing parking on the street (Gilchrist) and after (3) they (residents) took away the simple pleasures of the bridge club.”
Reply: 1. Lee County owns the 5th Street parking lot but utilizes only 60 percent of the parcel. While it’s the county’s call If the idle land is turned into parking spaces the decision would be beneficial to all but especially commuters and retailers. Here, my wife suggests using some of the spaces during season on a permit basis for village employees thereby releasing the store side slots for shoppers.
- Half a dozen homeowners on Gilchrist have obtained permits from the Lee County DOT to plant their parkways. This permission is granted at the pleasure of the county and may be withdrawn at will requiring the resident to assume the cost of reclamation. For the motorist the landscaping provides visual interest, for the pedestrian the trees represent a safety buffer to 30 MPH traffic and for the environment the vegetation serves as a filter for road runoff. Other landowners around the village have obtained similar dispensations including The Gasparilla Inn. Of course the parkways on the banyan block of 2nd Street have been off limits for generations and certainly set a precedent for an adjoining street.
- The Methodist Church did not renew the rental agreement with the Boca Grande Duplicate Bridge Club. I trust I speak for most if not all of their Gilchrist neighbors in thanking church officials for their forbearance.
Letter Comment: “They (Gilchrist residents) have accosted worshippers on their way to church.”
Reply: The case of the innocent pedestrian intercepted by a Gilchrist predator is a red haring and in reality was an imaginary encounter ginned up by two well known locals. The intention was to embarrass what was deemed to be a Vendee like resistance to progress.
Letter Comment: “(Gilchrist residents) threatened local merchants.”
Reply: I am guessing that the average age of a Gilchrist resident is the mid 70s and that of a Boca Grande merchant is the late 40s. It strikes me as improbable that a pensioner would threaten a vigorous middle age shopkeeper or that if he did he would be taken seriously.
Letter Comment: (Gilchrist residents) left bogus announcements on the windshields of vehicles (private property) parked on Gilchrist.”
Reply: Say what you will about the average Gilchrist homeowner but dimwitted doesn’t roll off the tongue. We are very much aware and take comfort from the fact that the “patch of weeds” is county property. So a resident suggesting the contrary is a stretch. But I can attest to a person of my acquaintance informing innocents parked on the people’s linear park that the practice was not allowed by Lee County Ordinance 91-29.
270 Gilchrist Ave.