CR951  Position Paper March 20, 2003

          In February members of the RGMC and I attended a public workshop regarding a project to extend County Road 951 into Lee County.  The intent of the project is to connect CR 951 to Corkscrew and/or Alico Roads. The stated purpose is to relieve congestion along I75.  The proposed, however, road would cut through a large stretch of wetlands that constitute the watershed for the Imperial River, as well as the western section of CREW.  It is feared that this project may become the premise for further urban sprawl in south Lee County.

            Believing that we would be allowed a chance to give public input on and ask pertinent questions about this project, the members of RGMC were surprised to find that the purpose of this workshop was not public input, but rather “consensus building.” In fact, no such consensus could be claimed as the outcome of this workshop.  However, those interested in the perpetuation of this environmentally irresponsible project can demonstrate the “appearance” of a consensus based on the questionable methods used. 

            All those who attended the workshop were seated randomly at tables.  Ultimately, large maps of the proposed area were passed out, one per table.  The people at each table were asked to make three proposals regarding the 951 extension.  The option of “no project” was given as only one proposal.  Two more proposals were expected.  Since each table had representatives from the environmental community as well as those with vested interest in the construction of the 951 extension each map that was turned in included at least one road drawn through the sensitive wetlands.  Hence a consensus “appears” to have been established.  In reality, however, no such consensus exists. 

            For this reason it is necessary to clarify the position of the RGMC.  The Responsible Growth Management Coalition does not support and will oppose the construction of the 951 extension through these valuable wetlands.  Such a project would not only be a threat to the hydrology of the area, but may also be a premise for sprawl, ultimately destroying the wetlands and increasing the amount of traffic and congestion.  Other options, such as expanding I75 into its already established 12 lane footprint and/or investing in more efficient public transportation, can effectively relieve the congestion on the interstate.  These alternatives are reasonable and healthier for the environment.