Record-breaking Green Gala returns and renewed range-light optimism were overshadowed by a distressingly large restroom Monday at the Barrier Island Parks Society Board meeting in Amory Chapel.
BIPS made a record $37,000 this year at its pirate-themed Green Gala fundraiser and the U.S. Department of Defense has agreed to take part in a March 20 conference call that could end a 22-year impasse over range light ownership allowing needed maintenance and safety upgrades.
"This call will hopefully be history making," said Sharon McKenzie, BIPS executive director.
BIPS President Jim Grant and Executive Director Sharon McKenzie are all smiles in discussing the Green Gala success.
U.S. Army officials reportedly have a document is in the pipeline allowing rights to the property to go to BIPS and the Florida State Parks system.
"This is really good news," said Jim Grant, BIPS Board president.
Gasparilla Island State Park manager Chad Lach said funding ideas are required for continued support from his employers. Moneymaking ideas bandied about during the meeting included range light merchandising, tours and photo ops.
What: BIPS Board meeting
When: 9:30 a.m. April 8
Where: Amory Chapel
Contact: Call 964-0060
Lon a less encouraging front, Lach said he resisted the hulking two-story restroom being installed on the beachfront near Amory Chapel with no success. Federal guidelines ruled the issue, he said.
"I fought this every step of the way," Lach said. "People aren't happy with it because it's so high in the air."
"I think it's an abortion," said BIPS board member Mike Giobbe, whose Belcher Road home is in eyesight of the $250,000 restroom now under construction by virtue of a Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau grant. "It's a huge mistake."
In other action:
The BIPS "Lighthouse Kids Explorer's Club - The Fresnel Lens and Its Amazing Light," originally scheduled for Saturday, May 16, has been rescheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 20.
"Marvelous Manatees," originally scheduled for Monday, March 25, has been canceled.
John Cleghorn and Russ Witschonke have been named BIPS Board members.