Apr. 13—SARASOTA —
The denial was "highly unusual and something I never experienced in my 27 years of public service," said
In a 2-1 subcommittee vote last week, Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board Vice Chairman
The regional project is meant to restore wetlands and improve water quality by filtering tons of impurities and nutrients before water enters the
Schleicher's objection did not appear to be focused on the project itself but on his dislike of the city of
For about five minutes, Schleicher, a technology company CEO who was appointed to the board in 2017 by former gov.
Schleicher subsequently denied an attempt to bring the proposal before the full 13-member board that oversees water resources across a 16-county region, including
Schleicher, who represents
In a blogpost last year, he equated
In an interview with the
To Brown, the opportunity to treat billions of gallons of water full of nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms before it reaches
"This is not about us, it's about
For years the city has struggled to settle on plans to redevelop the nearly 300-acre historic
An estimated 2.6 billion gallons of water flows through Bobby Jones every year. The project was supported by the county largely because it would help mitigate polluted water collected from 5,800 acres north of the municipal course.
In 2019, Gov.
The project in
Thursday's vote came as a shock to government officials and environmental advocates.
"It's unimaginable that
Earlier this year, the nonprofit published a first-of-its kind resource to spur and guide community-wide action to transform water quality throughout
The project would divert two canals to
The hope is to restore wetlands impacted almost a century ago by the construction of the golf course.
The decision to reject the city of
"The timing couldn't be worse for us to be turned down for a project like this," Thaxton said.
"Making public statements would be premature on that topic," Arroyo said.
"It's disappointing considering that approximately 2.6 billion gallons of storm water runoff flows through Bobby Jones every year on its way to our bay," Brody said. "That's billion with a B, collected from about 5,800 acres of the city and county. I can't think of a more impactful water quality improvement project locally, which is why we need to get it done with or without SWFWMD's help, but it would be nice to have their support."
"This project ranked 'High Priority' by SWFWMD staff and for good reason," Johnson wrote to the governing board on Thursday. "The public is very much behind the plan to restore wetlands."
"It seems highly irregular," Millholland said of Schleicher's decision on Thursday. "To me, it's something that needs to be addressed."
To Millholland, efforts to restore the watershed at Bobby Jones and the additional park space help to "level the playing field for equity and access to park land."
Bobby Jones is a "gem in the middle of the city" that would be a huge "win-win for the environment and the residents of the county."
"I can't imagine why it wouldn't go forward," Millholland said.
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