The meeting began with Executive Director Hugh Thomas requesting that Item 22., the Seven Springs permit vote, be placed first on the agenda due to unusual interest and number of speaker requests.
Taking all by surprise, Don Quincey made a motion to table Item 22 because he believes Nestle’s name should be listed as co-applicant on the permit, and because COVID has reduced transparency on the board meetings. Motion seconded by Virginia Sanchez. During discussion Richard Schwab felt the application was filled out correctly and that the board was ready to vote. He was the lone dissenter on the vote, which was 5 to 1 . All board members were physically present at the Live Oak facility.
This fact was mentioned during her comments by OSFR board member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson as a manifestation of the lack of transparency. Had this been made public, OSFR and others would have had the opportunity to demonstrate at the meeting. Two others, including Suwannee RiverKeeper John Quarterman, requested that board members identify themselves when speaking, so the public would know to whom they were listening.
Many speakers gave strong testimony as to why the permit should not be issued, including Dr. Robert Knight of Florida Springs Institute, Jessica Sanchez of the National Wildlife Federation, Maxine Connor of League of Women’s Voters and three board members of OSFR.
Many names were called whose owners were absent, either because of phone difficulties or perhaps they left the meeting when Item 22 was tabled. Some contacted me and said they were unable to negotiate the process in order to be able to speak. This has happened to me and it is frustrating.
Our thanks to those who took the time to intelligently and passionately voice their objections to the board members.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum