Re: Smallwood Store Public Hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014
Smallwood Store and Museum is under attack again, but this time by our own county! If you vote to vacate the 100-year old road to Smallwood Store, thereby jeopardizing the continuing existence of this historic structure, you are letting your taxpayers down!
The Smallwood Store came under attack last year when Florida-Georgia Grove (FGG), a Limited Liability Partnership from Sebring, FL, bought property adjacent to the Store knowing that the deed had a public road right in the middle of it. Over one weekend, bulldozers were brought in to destroy the only road leading to the store. They also fenced it off! A lawsuit ensued, and the Judge ruled that the company must restore the road. FGG appealed this ruling and they lost again. Now, the FGG attorneys have gotten involved trying to settle with property owners for an easement, which is inadequate and only benefits FGG! If Commissioners vote “to vacate the road” you are reversing the courts ruling. More to the point you are leaving the public access to Smallwood Store in the hands of a company who has demonstrated they have no sense of history.
The modern settlement of Chokoloskee Island began in 1874. Early residents farmed, fished and caught turtles, selling surpluses in Key West. In 1906, Ted opened his famous Smallwood Store and Indian Trading Post right on the waterfront at the end of the dirt road he named for his wife. The Store served as the town’s post office for the next 68 years. Mail came by boat from Key West, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers and Everglades City – until the causeway to Chokoloskee Island was completed in 1956.
Smallwood Store & Museum has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for 39 years.
Tourists come to Everglades City and Chokoloskee to savor the flavor of old times. Visitors stay overnight, bring tourist dollars, spend money, and boost the economy of the whole area. It makes economic sense to save Smallwood Store, our tourist attraction.
Please don’t leave the fate of Mamie Street (and Smallwood Store & Museum) in the hands of FGG who destroyed the road in the first place for their own private benefit. I ask you to vote to keep Mamie Street a public road as it has been for 100 years. Hold FGG accountable for restoring the proper road as the court decreed. Resolve this issue once and for all.
Elizabeth M. Perdichizzi
Caxambas Publishing Author, Owner
Preserving the history of SW Florida