News-Press by Micheal Braun and Charles Runnells
September 23, 2018
A conversation between Fort Myers Beach Mayor Tracey Gore, Councilman Dennis Boback and Chris Patton, a plaintiff in two lawsuits against a major building project in the town, was nothing more than friends catching up, Gore said Sunday.
“We’re neighbors,” she said. “I’ve known the Pattons all my life.”
Allegations that Gore, Boback and Patton were talking about the controversial TPI Hospitality/Margaritaville resort project, possibly in violation of Florida’s Sunshine Law, arose when a photo of the four at The Beached Whale was published locally last week. Also present were Gore’s and Patton’s spouses.
Florida’s Sunshine Law requires that a meeting of two or more elected members of a public board to discuss matters on which the board may take action must be noticed to the public and open to the public.
Gore said the picture and an alleged recording that purports to show the two couples speaking about the development and its future is nothing more than “bull—-.”
Developer Tom Torgerson and TPI Hospitality want to build a campus on about 7 acres near Times Square on Fort Myers Beach, which would feature a 254-unit resort hotel with restaurants, shops, a water park and other amenities on and off the Gulf of Mexico. Torgerson’s three-year campaign has drawn some criticism for the resort’s planned building heights and density, among other issues.
However, his concessions to enhance and preserve the treasured Gulf view from Matanzas Pass Bridge and to limit room density on the resort’s Gulf side won over the council, which approved the development earlier this year.