Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

Bailey Homestead Opportunity

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December 30, 2010

Looking at an Opportunity – published in the Island Reporter and Island Sun , Dec . 30 , 2010 By Barbara Joy Cooley , president , Committee of the Islands When you use Google Earth ( http : / / earth.google.com ) to examine the satellite photos of the land on the north side of Periwinkle Way across from Donax Street on Sanibel , you find yourself looking down on a parcel of land carpeted with dark green trees and a bright green patch in the middle . If you look closely at the pattern of the vegetation , you can see hints of the ridge - and - swale system that forms the natural terrain of the island . The bright green patch in the middle is an open lawn abutting an old home . This is the Bailey Homestead . The Sanibel Plan allows for the potential development of 36 houses on its 28 acres . The Plan , originally approved in 1976 soon after Sanibel incorporated as a city in late 1974 , reduced the number of units that could be developed on the island from about 35,000 to approximately 9,000 . Rare is the opportunity to reduce potential development even more . But that opportunity is here now , in the form of the Sanibel - Captiva Conservation Foundation’s plans to purchase the 28 - acre homestead , restore the natural habitat , and retain the historic home that was built in 1896 . While most conservation land on Sanibel is wetland , the Bailey Homestead property is unique in that much of it – 15.22 acres – is upland habitat . This is the portion of the homestead on which farming had been done in the past . In the Sanibel Plan , this area is in the “ Mid - Island Ridge ” zone . One of the permitted uses in that zone is still , believe it or not , Agriculture , according to page 188 of the Plan . The top of the list of permitted uses in this zone ( as in most of the others on the island ) is Conservation . Other allowed uses in the Mid - Island Ridge zone are Passive Recreation , Public Facilites , and Low - Intensity Residential , including single - family , duplex , and multi - family homes . The SCCF plans for restoring and maintaining habitat , installing a butterfly house and an outpost of the native plant nursery , as well as a trail and a modest historical interpretive center in the 1896 home , all fit within the allowed uses of the property according to the Sanibel Plan . The bonus for Sanibel’s environment is that the more intensive development of 36 residential units would not happen with SCCF ownership of the acreage . Connecting the Environmental Dots Another environmental benefit in the SCCF plans for the property is that they make permanent a crucial middle link in a wildlife corridor that extends from Causeway Boulevard to Dixie Beach Boulevard and beyond . This is a “ greenbelt ” that snakes through the city’s Pond - Apple Park , behind Matzaluna Restaurant and Ellington’s Jazz Club , through more city property and more SCCF property . Beyond Dixie Beach Boulevard , this corridor leads right into wetland that is part of the J . N . “ Ding ” Darling National Wildlife Refuge . An aspect of preserving Sanibel’s unique environment is preserving its few historic properties . The Sanibel Register of Historic Landmarks is a short list – including only ten houses . This home is one of them . Several of the historic landmark homes , however , have been moved from their original locations . Usually , Sanibel does not have the opportunity to preserve a historic home in its historic location . But at last , here is an opportunity to do just that . The SCCF speaks of plans to apply for National Register of Historic Places designation for the Bailey home . This designation would potentially make some grant funding available for restoring the building . Part of the process of evaluating a property to determine if it is eligible for the National Register is examining what are called the “ Seven Aspects of Integrity . ” The very first of these seven criteria is “ Location . ” According to the National Park Service , which administers the National Register of Historic Places , “ The relationship between the property and its location is often important to understanding why the property was created or why something happened . The actual location of a historic property , complemented by its setting , is particularly important in recapturing the sense of historic events and persons . Except in rare cases , the relationship between a property and its historic associations is destroyed if the property is moved . ” So , if Sanibel wishes to have the benefits of National Register listing for the Bailey home , it should remain in its current location . The SCCF plans provide for just that , and should , in our judgment , be welcomed and supported by the entire community . Committee of the Islands welcomes your input on this subject . Please email your comments to coti @ coti.org . Commentaries on other island issues are available on our website at www.coti.org .

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