130126 More of the Good, the Questionable, and the Ugly – Tony Biell

More of the good, the questionable, and the ugly


As a follow up to my previous missive, let’s look further into the activities of our county, its only city, Punta Gorda, and the other wannabe cities in Charlotte County.

The much debated railroad crossing at Tamiami Trail and Jones Loop road was to have a rail siding and off-loading facility just to the north of Jones Loop Road. Currently trains are unloaded in Fort Myers and the freight is hauled by truck to our local businesses. During construction a second track over Jones Loop was added, but it ends abruptly after the intersection. There is no off-loading facility and there are no signs of further construction. One of several justifications to spend the money on this intersection was this facility. Our county administrators must put the fire to the feet of the railroad and get this siding completed! Several of our businesses will thank them.

The snake commonly referred to as Murdock Village is raising its ugly head again. There has been talk of water parks, hotels, music venues ad infinitum and all have failed due to developers unable to obtain sufficient funding – imagine that! Recently, the stench of a proposal that the county supply seed money wafted across the county. At this point it is only a whiff, but based on past experiences, these whiffs often result in real proposals. Let’s watch this carefully to be sure it doesn’t turn into another IMPAC-like fiasco and its associated uproar with us rabble carrying scythes and pitchforks to Murdock Circle.

It appears that the Chaney Brothers food distribution company may break ground on their new facility later this year. Kudos on this because of the constructions jobs it will bring into the airport land in Charlotte County. Too bad there aren’t more significant investments being made in the airport industrial park.

Ah, the airport with its name du jour… It’s about time that information on the expanded terminal is made public. Any conceptual drawings should be publicized widely so that county residents could see was is being planned. Without something to look at, the new terminal is just another lick and a promise. The airport web site should be a natural for this as should be the existing terminal walls. Make it a big deal even if construction is down the road!

The controversy surrounding the lease of the racetrack is at an impasse, but should not be. The FAA rules require that the land be leased at the going market rate. The question is what is the going market rate on surrounding vacant property? Just because the Chaney Brothers property is valued at a certain amount doesn’t mean that the rest of the property is the same. Hey FAA, the rest of the property sits fallow without renters. No one currently wants it. Let’s get what we can from someone who has proven to be a model tenant and not attempt to set a 365 day lease rate on a fifty day a year business. And no, we should not avoid taking on the FAA through our U.S. representative in congress. The bureaucrats are paid by us and do our bidding. One of the airport commissioners should bite the bullet, pick up the phone and call Tom Rooney for his help.

The latest lawsuit involving water and sewer lines haunts us, but the county believes that the issues on this case are much clearer in the county’s favor, but given the attitudes of some of the judges, nothing should be assumed. The injustice foisted upon the county in the last case by the pompous aristocrats in the appellate court should be a warning that anything could happen and that the citizens could be victimized again – and we pay these people!

The Punta Gorda south canal cut into Charlotte Harbor is still in limbo, but needs to be resurrected for the good of the citizen tax payers in the southern part of the city. Let’s start some action on this inevitable project and make it happen sooner than later. We’re getting older.

The two new county commissions, Bill Truex and Ken Doherty, are welcome additions and will bring much needed construction and engineering expertise. Let’s pray that they will help guide the county in a rational direction and avoid the occasional fiascos.


Anthony J. Biell

January 26, 2013


Anthony Biell is the vice-president of the Charlotte County Curmudgeon Club. Readers may reach him at curclub@embarqmail.com. The Curmudgeon website is www.ccurmudgeon.org.