Originally published in The Pine Island Eagle by Paulette LeBlanc on October 28, 2020

Island resident and GPICA President Scott Wilkinson often finds himself running back and forth to Fort Myers to test the waters from Tropical Point Park in St. James City. After noticing several people, including school children, wading in these waters, he contacted county officials on behalf of fellow islanders in an effort to keep them safe.

Lee County Public Communications Director Betsy Clayton said Tropical Point Park is not designated as a swimming beach, so it is not part of the Florida Department of Health’s Florida Healthy Beaches Program, adding that the state DOH’s program for swimming beaches does involve regular testing.

“Tropical Point Park is a Lee County Parks & Recreation site. We do not post it or market it as a beach park, which is why it’s not listed on our website,” Clayton said.

Calusa Waterkeeper Founding member John Cassani disagrees with the county’s position on designation, saying it is absolutely designated a potential public bathing area and that Florida’s DOH has simply absolved itself of any responsibility from monitoring the waters or providing signage with regard to risk.

“This is what we call a class three water body in Florida,” Cassani said. “Matlacha Pass is also an outstanding Florida water, which is entitled to the highest protection the state can provide. So if this is not a designated area for swimming…what is?”

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