LCSO recognizes GICIA’s bike path safety efforts

May 9, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

SUBMITTED BY THE GICIA – In 1985 the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association completed construction of the five miles of paved bike path that runs from First Street north. In the time since, GICIA has continued to focus on maintaining an attractive and safe path. As the numbers of island residents and visitors increase, the numbers of users on the GICIA Bike Path also grows. With heightened path activity comes a greater need for cooperative safety efforts between the GICIA and the local deputies. On Monday, May 3, Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Jeff Corkhill presented GICIA Executive Director Misty Nichols with a certificate of appreciation in honor of these efforts.   

It was 10 years ago that GICIA Executive Director Misty Nichols initiated the idea of Bike Path Safety Details. While keeping a finger on the pulse of the Boca Grande community, Lt. Corkhill was quite busy. He and then Sheriff Mike Scott didn’t hesitate for a moment when GICIA asked if they could assist with a Bike Path safety effort. Since then, and with the support of Sheriff Carmine Marceno, local deputies spend a significant amount of their “off duty” hours conducting safety details on the GICIA Bike Path.    

Over the years, the details have been well received by the Community, which has allowed the effort to expand. Through a generous annual grant from the Boca Grande Woman’s Club, the safety details have been able to expand and now more than 80 hours a month are dedicated to off duty deputies encouraging path users to be safe and courteous. A vast majority of island residents use the path daily to transverse the island by cart or bike, walk the dog, exercise, and catch up with friends. It is one of the many island treasures that brings a strong sense of place to the Boca Grande Community. While it is ultimately up to path users, the presence of local deputies serves as a great reminder of the importance of being courteous and following the path rules.    

On Monday, Captain Jakacki, Lt. Corkhill and Deputy Lanni surprised Nichols at a morning GICIA event in the Sam Murphy Park. The Certificate of Appreciation recognized Nichols and the GICIA for partnering with Lee County Sheriff’s Department to improve safety on the Bike Path.  

“Although I had planned the event in the park, I had no idea this was going to happen. I am as honored as I am surprised by the recognition,” said Nichols. “My island roots grow deep and I am blessed to work each day with talented, generous residents and professionals who love Boca Grande and continue working to maintain its special charm.”