Wednesday, October 27, 2021

“As time goes by”

Guest Commentary – Clayton Leitz

Everyone – and I mean everyone is dragging their feet. Days, weeks, months and years go by without an answer why Marco Island Cemetery, Inc. can not have above ground burial with a beautiful garden memorial building at approximately 12 feet high.

Let’s just stick with the facts.

  1. Contacted Pastor Thomas McCulley, May 2009 about a mausoleum at the cemetery. August 4, 2009 – letter of OK from the Church and Cemetery Board.
  2. Contacted planning Kris Van Lengen to clarify rules and restrictions concerning Mausoleum. A letter to Pastor McCulley, New Life Church of God – August 31, 2009.
  3. Shock – December 26, 2009 – find out about state statutes involving cemetery.
  4. Contacted Pres. Thomas McCulley to hire attorney to get pre-need trust license from State of Florida. Mc Culley preferred Craig Woodward 11/3/09.
  5. Letter from Woodward November 24, 2009.

Started personal contact with Funeral Cemetery & Cemetery Services in Tallahassee – Jim Wheaton. January 4, 2009 which led all the way to Governor Charlie Crist – No Help there.

These are the contacts I made in this endeavor:

  • Representative Tom Grady – January 2, 2010. Tom Grady called contact: Ken Robertson State Representative – Robertson said: “We will look into the matter.”
  • Ken Robertson – Tom Grady, Donna Fiala.
  • Ken Robertson – January 22, 2010 again January 25, 2010, January 27 – Told to contact Attorney Ross McVoy.
  • American Cemetery Association State Cemetery Board.
  • Ken Robertson – February 5, 2010
  • President and Pastor Thomas McCulley did not hire attorney – dropped the ball.
  • Attorney Ross McVoy February January 12-13-15-16-17.
  • Ross McVoy – Keenan Knopke – February 25.
  • 3 way call with Keenan Knopkf –Told to contact Doug Shropshire, Division Director, F.C.C.S. Tallahassee.
  • Letter Certified Letter (CL) to Doug Shropshire – March 4, 2010.
  • Letter from Doug Shropshire to C.L. – April 4, 2010.
  • Letter from Donna Fiala to Doug Shropshire – May 7, 2010.
  • Letter C.L. to Alex Zink, Chief Financial Officer – April 27, 2010.
  • Return from Michael Carlson, Deputy Chief of Staff – May 5, 2010.
  • Letter from Michael Carlson contact – May 13, 2010.
  • State of Fl Senator and Representative.
  • C.L. to Governor Crist – May 17, 2010.
  • C.L. to Governor Crist – June 15, 2010.
  • C.L. to Governor Crist – June 29, 2010.
  • Finally New Life Pastor, Thomas Mc Culley to Governor Crist – June 23, 2010.
  • Marco Lutheran Church Pastor Kevin Koenig to Governor Crist – July 6, 2010.

The present time

I’ve been told by Michael Carlson, Deputy Chief of Staff Office of C.F.D. Alex Sink to contact Senator Garrett Richter and Representative Tom Grady.

Delivered package of all information to Legislative Assistant Rebecca Kokkinos – July 26, 2010.

Meeting arranged for Wednesday August 18, 2010

Thomas McCulley, Betsy Perdichizzi and friend Pastor Kevin Koenig, Attorney Craig Woodward with Senator Richter by phone and Legislative Assistant Rebecca Kokkinos. Outcome of meeting letter from Senator Richter August 20, 2010 as follows:

“Dear Mr. Lietz:

Thank you for coming to my office to discuss the proposed mausoleum project on Marco Island Cemetery. I understand you desire and appreciate the time you took to share your ideas with me.

My pledge to you was to contact Representative Ken Roberson before I leave Naples on Monday to discuss this project with him and to ask for his input. I have placed that call and left a message with Rep. Roberson. I have not spoken to him personally because I would prefer to have a face to face meeting with him when I return. I will call Rep. Roberson during the first week of September to arrange this meeting.

I will be in contact with you as soon as I have had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Roberson. Thank you again for taking the time to visit my office and I look forward to speaking to you again.

Senator Garrett S. Richter”

Then on September 30th an answer from Senator Garrett Richter arrived, after promising to sponsor a new bill, statute or amendment.

“Dear Mr. Leitz:

As has been discussed at previous meetings with my staff and myself, I have personally met with Representative Ken Roberson and other individuals in the cemetery and funeral industry to discuss your desire to build a mausoleum at the Marco Island Cemetery. You are aware of the current restrictions and have asked me to consider legislation to add an exemption to statute for Marco Island Cemetery.

There is industry wide opposition to legislation that would expand the number of current exemptions. After extensive discussion regarding the opposition I believe the statute is appropriate in its current form. Significant concern surrounds the guaranteed ability to maintain a mausoleum into perpetuity. A mausoleum requires significantly greater resources to maintain than a cemetery.

A solution to consider is to have the Marco Island Cemetery deeded over to the City of Marco Island. Marco Island could lease it back to the church or to a cemetery management company. Florida statute does provide for municipal ownership because it would give citizens access to the cemetery ownership in the event the facility is not properly maintained into perpetuity.

My office spent a significant amount of time on this issue in order to understand Florida statute as well as to understand the intent of the statute of its exemptions. Out conclusion is that the above alternatives are the best solutions we can recommend.

Garrett Richter”

With this answer from Senator Richter I contacted Ken Robertson in Tallahassee. He said he drove down and met with Senator Richter in his office and also drove to Marco to see the Cemetery. His comments were very interesting including what in the world happened to the historic lot, at the center of Elkcam Circle and Bald Eagle Drive, changing to a commercial lot. This has now prompted an investigation of the transaction and how a choice piece of property can be rezoned from church property to commercial with the Deltona Deed Restriction in place.

Let’s put that aside for the time being and stick to the facts. His comments also suggested the Marco Island Historic Cemetery should be turned over to the City of Marco Island. After a long conversation about this situation, Representative Ken Robertson said he would be happy to appear before the City Council and present his views and advice.

We thank you Representative Ken Robertson! Now that the Holidays are over I will pursue and start all over again with our new Governor Rick Scott.

Again, “As Time Goes by.” See you in the sand.

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