Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and other top ranking officials made a trip to Estero Island Thursday to check out the beachfront, dip their toes in the Gulf and listen to comments from Beach hospitality members about the economic impact suffered since high flow regulatory freshwater releases have been discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and consequently Southwest Florida saltwater estuaries.
After the brief beachfront visit, Benacquisto was joined by State Representative Ray Rodriguez along with Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker, Beach Mayor Alan Mandel and Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane at the head of the round table inside Pink Shell Beach Resort's Lido Ballroom. This trip came after she visited Sanibel and before she attended an evening town hall meeting on the subject at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center.
Words such as "damage," "reputation," "future" and "trickle down effect" were bounced around the room as roughly one dozen Beach business representatives offered comments about how the state of the Gulf and Back Bay has affected their livelihoods. While the Lake O flows have eased, the consequences of the action have escalated.
Sen. Benacquisto speaks with Beach Mayor Alan Mandel and State Representative Ray Rodriguez about water quality on the beachfront of Estero Island
"Every comment that you make is critically valuable to us. We will underscore everyone's testimony to set the stage for next season," said Benacquisto. "With your help, we want to make sure the message is right and what it should be."