Let's stick to the facts, Gate Petroleum! SaveGuanaNow.org was misrepresented by Gate’s VP Ken Wilson September 22. Nowhere on our website or other communications have we stated that the Outpost is “rife with endangered wildlife.” We have, however, stated that 17 species sighted in Guana are among those designated Threatened or Species of Special Concern, listing only those that have a possibility of being in or near the Outpost. We’ve received reports and photographs of some of these species existing close enough to the Outpost to contradict claims made in Gate’s Habitat and Species Assessment survey.
When referring to Gary Coulliette’s and my homes on Neck Road, Mr. Wilson said, “It seems as though they got theirs and they don’t want anyone else to.” The fact is, the houses on Neck Road were built on residential land, not conservation property. Another important distinction is that the Outpost is surrounded almost entirely by nature preserve, unlike Neck Road properties. If the Outpost’s 70 upland acres are no longer conservation, then “conservation” is nothing more than a pre-development tax shelter; the 99-acre property with its mile of waterfront views is assessed at about the same value as just three non-lakefront acres on Neck Road.
Mr. Wilson cries NIMBY to try to discredit those on Neck Road who are fighting to save conservation land. But Guana is all of our back yard. That’s why Audubon and Sierra oppose development at the Outpost, and the Associated Press gave the story national coverage. High schoolers across Jacksonville are mobilizing to help. Equestrians and birders are planning fundraisers. Kayakers are distraught about the potential impact on Guana Lake. In a recent letter to the editor, a non-Neck Road citizen was so impassioned about saving the Outpost that he offered to chain himself to construction equipment.
Two years ago, Mr. Wilson told residents in a meeting with county officials that he’d be open to placing the property on the Florida Forever list if Amendment 1 passed. Well, it passed! And the North Florida Land Trust (with access to multiple funding sources) will take immediate steps to try to conserve it if given the green light. We hope the Gate Corporation will do what’s right by the land it sold for $49 million to the state, and allow purchase of the Outpost for permanent preservation – protecting not only those 99 acres, but the surrounding preserve.
Ponte Vedra Beach