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Torgerson asks the big question

Candidates voice their take on Grand Resorts at forum

March 8, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Tom Torgerson finally did it - he asked the seven candidates for Town Council if they supported him.

The $64,000 question - make that the $250 million question, when you consider the proposed cost of his downtown redevelopment plan - was asked by the Grand Resorts developer at Fish-Tale Marina on Thursday, during the final moments of the final candidates forum.

Without an actual application having yet been delivered to Town Hall, the question was a bit like putting one's toe in the water. Torgerson asked it and then clarified it, settling on inquiring whether a candidate was against it regardless of its final details or would a candidate have an open mind.

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Tom Torgerson, CEO of TPI Hospitality and developer of the proposed Grand Resorts project on Fort Myers Beach.

From left to right at the debate table, here is paraphrasing of the responses:

Suzanne Katt: She's not opposed and has an open mind.

Dennis Boback: Until he sees an application, she said it would be hard to say yes or no.

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Bruce Butcher: He has an open mind.

Dan Andre: He has an open mind.

Jack Green: He simply said he looks forward to the application.

Tracey Gore. She said she's opposed to what she's seen thus far, but looks forward to seeing the application.

Ber Stevenson: He said he's totally opposed to it, both now and in the future. "Open mind?" he asked. "Yeah, you'd have to have a hole in your head to consider this."

Both the town of Fort Myers Beach and the Lee County commissioners must approve the plan with a majority vote.

Torgerson has said his application could come forward any day now, but with the need for careful perusal and two public hearings it won't be voted upon by the current Town Council. On March 15, two seats will be filled on the five-person council, with the three returning members having given indications that two of them would possibly support what has thus far been presented by Grand Resorts (Anita Cereceda and Rexann Hosafros) and one who would likely not support it (Summer Stockton). Therefore, the two new members will likely represent the deciding votes.

"I wanted to know if they would be objective in considering the proposal, knowing they don't currently have the knowledge of what the detailed 10-plus-page application will have within it," Torgerson said. "Or to the contrary, are they closed minded and not willing to participate, as good leaders do, to try to get to a workable win-win-win outcome? So another way to look at is if their minds are monolithic or three dimensional."



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