Landry alleges FISH president knew of fencing
Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage president Kim McVey denied knowing at an Aug. 6 meeting that former board member Bob Landry had begun fence work on the FISH preserve.
Landry began installing fence posts in late July. A couple of days later, another board member allegedly knocked the posts to the ground.
Both Landry’s actions and the alleged member’s vandalism led to a contentious and accusatory meeting of the nonprofit board, which also resulted in the resignation of board secretary Joe Kane. Landry resigned his board seat and his position of facilities chair before the meeting.
Board members who questioned Landry’s work and McVey’s involvement learned that Landry was paid by FISH for the work.
FISH is responsible for maintaining its 95-acre preserve and has an ongoing mission to protect the coastline of Cortez.
McVey has denied any knowledge that Landry had begun the work, but Landry said that isn’t true.
“The day before the vandalism happened, I took Kim out to show her what we had already done and where we plan on installing the fence,” said Landry. “Kim said ‘OK.’”
Landry said McVey called him later that afternoon, asking him to stop work on the fence.
“And I did,” said Landry. “This needs to be told because I didn’t take the law into my hands. As chair of the FISH facilities committee at that time, I was asked to install a fence, which I did.”
Board members at the Aug. 6 meeting complained about Landry moving forward with the project when the board had yet to decide where the fence would be installed.
Landry said that’s also not true.
“FISH board members were aware weeks ago where the fence was planned to be installed,” he said. “Once the budget was approved, I started on the fencing. This was only one of many projects approved at the facilities committee meeting, and was done with continued dialogue with Kim.”
McVey did not return a request for comment by The Islander press time.
Michael Gardner, a diesel mechanic who donates time and equipment to FISH, complained McVey is not involved in the community “because she’s too busy running a restaurant or she doesn’t care.”
Gardner attended the Aug. 6 meeting and said his time as a volunteer is ending if a change isn’t made in FISH leadership.
“It’s been this way for too long,” he said. “Ever since Kim McVey and Jane von Hahmann took over, people have quit left and right.”
Gardner said McVey never returns his phone calls, “and it’s to the point where I’m not going to help FISH anymore until all this fighting and backstabbing ends.”
Gardner said it was never this bad when former president Karen Bell ran FISH, “because she went out of her way to get people involved. It seems to me that Kim and Jane don’t want anyone to get involved because they have their own agendas.
“What they tell you on the side is completely different than what they say at the meetings,” he added. “They will tell you one thing and turn right around at a meeting, look you in the eye and deny they ever said it.”
Like other Cortez residents and FISH volunteers, Gardner wants a solution to the ongoing fighting.
“I think a start would be for Kim to resign,” he said. “Someone, and I don’t know who, needs to step in and pull it all back together, because right now, it’s only going to get worse.”