To the Editor:
As we commence another new season, the directors and staff of your Barrier Island Parks Society sincerely thank our members, volunteers and supporters for the vital role they play each year in facilitating the mission of BIPS - to preserve, conserve and support our home area state parks: Cayo Costa, Don Pedro, Gasparilla Island and Stump Pass.
I'm happy to report with the election of four new directors - Larry Hannah, Nancy Lingeman, Tommy Locke and Pete Roberts - at the annual BIPS meeting we are at full strength with 20 dedicated volunteers.
Another cause for optimism is we see some light at the end of the tunnel in our 20-plus-year efforts to restore the Gasparilla island rear range light and effect a transfer of the structure and land to local control and custodianship.
We took a giant step forward Nov. 8 in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard when we inspected and obtained a professional evaluation of the structure to finally get a handle on what a complete restoration would entail and cost.
We expect a full report soon. Following that, we anticipate moving forward quickly to gauge receptiveness of the community to a funding effort, to evaluate forming a locally managed entity to eventually manage and support the property should we effect a transfer, and to have the range light repaired and painted to vinatge 1927 glory. Definitely stay tuned!
Also, grab your calendar right now to save the night of Feb. 22 to attend Boca Grande's best party of the year - our annual Green Gala at the Pass Club. If you're a Jimmy Buffett fan, you'll want to be there as his music will be well represented.
As always, a sincere thanks to all our members for renewing their BIPS membership each year. We simply couldn't operate without your generosity. On behalf of our staff and board, may your Christmas holidays be wonderful.