To the Editor:
As an Island historian I would like to comment on Skip Perry's editorial in last week’s Beacon. In spite of what some might call Skip’s “aggressive style,” I thought that, on the whole, it was “spot on.” Boca Grande has historically been a multi-dimensional town. I want go into all of the reasons that it was that way.
Everyone who knows anything about Boca Grande history knows that’s the way it was. It was not that way by accident. It was planned that way. And the rest was the result of an unusual mix of industry, tourism and fishing, and the needs of those industries.
True we have lost much of that, but much remains to remind us - the lighthouse, the train depot, the school, the Gasparilla Inn, the historic district, and especially the old-time residents like myself and a few others, and our descendants.
What do these characteristics have to do with how to fund the bridge, you may ask? Well, what was reported in the Beacon regarding the last public meeting regarding the matter reminds me of the 99% rule. In other words, the concensus seemed to have been let the 99% buy the bridge for the 1%. But that would be our loss, not only economically, as expressed by several letters to the Beacon recently, but also in diversity.
As a docent at the lighthouse I greet and talk to these off-island people frequently ... even the so-called Hell’s Angels, who in reality are doctors, lawyers and merchant princes. The others are just folks who appreciate the island, more than you might think. While they are here they give it a much-needed balance.
Yes I know they also clog up the streets that lead to the beach, but that is another problem. One that will have to be addressed separately from the bridge-financing issue. For instance, one solution might be to do what Sanibel does: Designate specific parking places at accesses and issue limited parking stickers, so as not to allow overcrowding at any and all locations.
In a sense, Boca Grande is a state of mind. And as long as I am not out of my mind I don’t want the place I love so much to become a soulless, gated community, as Skip so aptly put it.Capt. Robert W. JohnsonBoca Grande
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