The following is my address to the BOCC for this final meeting…
Good morning – my name is Jack Coletti and this is my colleague, Eilia Coletti. Eilia has been camping on Shell Key since she was 1 year old – and has been deeply involved with our efforts to find balance between preservation and public access to Shell Key.
I’m a little sorry to hear the bad wrap that ‘compromise’ is getting here today. It’s been our experience with this issue – and it’s certainly what I teach my daughter – that Government works best when people are willing to work together in the spirit of compromise.
While recreational boaters are not an organized group, we have been very clear about our primary, collective concern: We are slowly losing a lifestyle that, for many of us, is the most unique and worthwhile reason to live in St. Petersburg.
So, rather that just complain about these issues, we engaged in dialog with environmentalists and communicated with county staff to find a practical compromise in the form of Licensed camping. And I commend the County staff for their patience and willingness to mold our ideas into viable language for the plan.
Bird advocates tell us that the current 2 month ban does not cover the full 6 month nesting season. And county staff tells us that the current signage has been ineffective in communicating *any* of the rules on the island.We would, however, like to make one final plea – for the family dog. We are offering an alternative to the proposed year-round pet ban – that will address all of the stated concerns about dogs – while still leaving some access for responsible pet owners.
We have a clear and simple alternative to a zero-tolerance pet policy.:
1) Increase the current 2 month ban to cover the full 6 month nesting season.
2) Employ creative, unambiguous signage to enforce the rules for pet owners.
We made this sign in our backyard with some scrap plywood, vinyl an paint. It was fun – I told Pam not to feel bad if you don’t like it – we enjoyed making the sign. and we made it to illustrate this point.
People tend not to read large blocks of text on a plain sign that’s 100 yards away. And, as officer Glenn told us, people are often content to be willfully ignorant of the rules.
But effective signage like this would serve both as an unambiguous notification of the rules – AND as a clear indictment of those who would violate the rules.
OK – these signs not only tell *you* the rules – but they tell EVERYONE around you if you are breaking the rules. This puts a giant magnifying glass on anyone who violates restricted areas or other rules with their pets.
It doesn’t make sense to go from a practically un enforced 2 month ban – directly to a zero-tolerance policy – without trying the alternatives. We are asking you to give this idea a chance to work.
If you haven’t already, I would ask you to visit shellkey.org to read the details of our proposal where we address additional concerns for wintering shorebirds and provide details for inexpensive sign production.
Thank you for this time,