Residents ask Bonita fire officials to clean up RV park

Published by on April 12, 2005

Also Monday, members of the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue board:
• At the request of Commissioner Edward FitzGerald, agreed to publish an ad for professional consultants to bid on the opportunity to meet with the commissioners in an executive workshop to establish a mission statement and goals.
• Voted unanimously to reappoint Chief Dan Gourley and Commissioner Bob Paterson to serve as trustees of the Firefighter Pension Board for two-year terms.
• Heard highlights of the fire district’s 2004 annual report. They include:
— Firefighters responded to 4,897 incidents, up 8.5 percent from 2003.
— The taxable property value of all real estate located in the district totaled $6.6 billion, almost a 15 percent increase from 2003.
— Six employees were hired, bringing the total to 90.
— Construction began on Station Two and continued on Station Four. Station Five opened in March.

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Some expressed concern to Bonita Springs fire officials on Monday about what they say are hazardous conditions at the Manna Christian RV Park, but the officials said their hands have been tied by Lee County.

Bill Lonkart, a resident of Worthington Country Club — which is located across the street from the RV park — said during the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue board meeting Monday that the barrels and waste at Manna Christian are potential fire hazards because they contain chemicals and debris.

"It's in the county's hands," replied Fire Chief Dan Gourley. That's because zoning issues at the park come under the county's jurisdiction.

But Fire Commissioner Edward FitzGerald, also a Worthington resident, thinks the fire district should step in.

"I believe the conditions there are so life-threatening to so many people that for us to say it is a jurisdictional problem is unacceptable," said FitzGerald, who toured the RV park with Lonkart within the last month.

FitzGerald urged the board to investigate the matter. Nothing firm was decided.

The board did move forward Monday on a request for Gourley to approach city officials and pursue annexation of Fire Station Four. The board approved the motion 3-2, with FitzGerald and Commissioner Bob Paterson dissenting.

Gourley said the annexation of Station Four would shift zoning, code enforcement, land use changes and road maintenance responsibilities there from the county to the city.

"We have had annexation requests before and so far they've all been approved for small parcels," said Councilman Alex Grantt, city liaison to the fire board.