President's Letter 
March 2003

Dear RGMC Members:

 

            Recently it has become my privilege to represent the Responsible Growth Management Coalition as its president.  Thank you for such an incredible opportunity to promote responsible growth in this our beautiful and fragile home.  It is truly my honor to be working with such knowledgeable and passionate people and inspiring environmental organizations. 

 

            As you know, the RGMC’s strengths lie in the fact that we are a local group specializing in local issues that affect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the natural world that we experience as our own.  The RGMC is immediately invested in the health and beauty of South West Florida.   As a coalition, however, we benefit from the expertise and knowledge from other local and national environmental groups.  This puts the RGMC in the unique position for being at the forefront of environmental issues that impact responsible growth in our community.  It was this combination of factors that inspired me to be actively involved with the RGMC. 

 

            Of course, the RGMC has a history of being at the forefront of responsible growth issues.  One of the most dramatic victories for the RGMC, as well as for the citizens of Lee County who care about the water they drink, was the designation of the DR/GR (Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource) area.  Many of our members can recall the awesome challenges and extraordinary effort put forth by the RGMC to secure this necessary recharge area for our aquifers. Yet the lands designated as the DR/GR continue to be the target of developmental greed.  Miromar Lakes is, as I write this letter, trying to change the Lee Plan to allow 24 acres of the DR/GR to be designated as urban.  This might be the precedent needed by such groups as the Ginn Corporation to exploit the DR/GR for their own profit. The RGMC continues to stand firm against any incursions into this valuable resource.

 

            Most recently, the Responsible Growth Management Coalition spearheaded an effort to ensure that tributaries to Estero Bay were accurately categorized as impaired by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).  These tributaries were mistakenly categorized as being fresh water when, in fact, they were mostly estuarine and, thus, required higher standards of protection.  Due to the efforts of the Responsible Growth Management Coalition, the FDEP revisited their research, revised their conclusions and decided to restore all tributaries to the list of impaired waters. Although it is not good news that these water bodies are impaired, the fact that they are now so recognized will spur policy makers to address problems with our watershed through better planning, improved storm-water management practices, new considerations for permitting, etc.

 

            Recently some RGMC members and I attended what was billed as a public education workshop regarding the extension of County Road 951 into Lee County . This public workshop was to emphasize “consensus building” among citizens concerned with running this road through important wetlands.  What was built, however, was not a consensus, but rather the “appearance” of a consensus in support of building a road through the Imperial River watershed.  This so called public workshop served as a dramatic demonstration of the power and mastery of deceit that we face in our attempts to ensure our quality of life in a clean and healthy environment. The RGMC is steadfastly against the CR951 extension project.[1]

 

            Considering the awesome challenges that we face my primary goal as president will be to increase our membership.  The RGMC must be ready to face any contingency that may challenge the incredible gains we’ve made toward responsible growth.  This may include taking legal action against well financed developers.  Obviously, the financial resources that are made available from the dues and donations of a large and generous membership are invaluable toward these ends.  Of equal value is the number of voices represented by the RGMC.  Every new member added to the rolls of the RGMC makes us that much stronger, that much louder, in our resistance to wanton and reckless development.  Imagine the effect if every current member of the RGMC could convince one other person to sign on with us!  Ironically, the greater our ability to make legal challenges to destructive and illegal policies, the less likely is the necessity of such action.  By increasing our resources we can save our resources.

 

            As important as it is to increase our financial strength and our representative base, it is also necessary to increase the mobility and involvement of our membership.  Our membership offers a wide range of talents.  Some of our members are adept at policy while others are great public speakers.  We have members who have a deep understanding of ecology and science, experience in the human services, activists who have no problems calling commissioners and state politicians.  Other members have a talent for writing and increasing public awareness.  The RGMC is interested in using these skills to ensure the success of our goals. 

 

            Currently we are looking for a member to serve as a representative to the Agency for Bay Management.  Those of you who are interested in the preservation of Estero Bay, this would be one day a month (the second Monday) in which you could be actively involved in responsible growth issues. We are also looking for people who would be willing to speak at public hearings, or research county documents, or write letters, or any of a variety of activities that would make the RGMC an even greater, more vital force in Southwest Florida !  If you are interested or know someone who is interested in activism please contact me at the following address:

 

                        E-mail: rgmc@hotmail.com

                        Subject: To Mike Andoscia

 

            Once again, thank you for the opportunity to represent you and our common interests. 

 

                                                                        Sincerely

 

 

 

                                                                        Michael Andoscia M.A.

                                                                        President RGMC

           



[1] For more information on this public workshop see the link and position paper on the RGMC website, or contact me directly with the attached contact information.

 

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