TREASURE ISLAND | MADEIRA BEACH — Robert Minning, formerly Mayor of Treasure Island, was appointed on July 6 to chair the EPIC (Environmental Preservation Initiative for our Communities) committee of the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce.
“Mayor Minning has a long history of environmental advocacy,” said Chamber Board Chairman Joe Dise in announcing the appointment. “We look forward to Bob’s leadership in focusing much-needed attention on the environment and how it affects our quality of life and the vigor of our local economy.”
EPIC was created in 2015 by founding committee chair Greg Tong.
“Litter on our beaches is not only unsightly, but also a detriment to our ecosystem,” said Tong in describing why he felt the committee was necessary. “The environmental impact of plastic straws and cups, Styrofoam® containers, and other non-biodegradable products being discarded on our beaches challenges not only our aesthetics, but also marine life. Our Chamber embraced EPIC as a way to encourage our beach businesses to voluntarily reduce this debris.”
“We are now poised to grow the program,” added Tong, “and I can’t think of a better person than Bob Minning to take EPIC to the next level.”
Minning is a long-time resident of Treasure Island and served as Mayor from 2009 till 2018. His interest in environmental preservation goes back even further.
“I joined the City’s Beach Stewardship program in 2000,” he said. “Our primary focus was to ensure proper beach re-nourishment and to keep our beaches clean. There wasn’t as much litter on our beaches at that time. As our population and tourism have increased, so has the amount of litter accumulating here. It’s now essential that we take public education about the environment seriously, and our Chamber is an important part of that.”
Minning said that his goal is to work with the connections he made as Mayor to build a coalition to further EPIC’s effectiveness. “The mission and tenets of the committee are commendable and pointed in the right direction,” he emphasized. “It’s public and business awareness that is lacking. EPIC’s ‘blueprint’ is applicable throughout the 24 municipalities in Pinellas County, and we hope to work with the other Chambers in our community to expand the voluntary effort to reduce non-biodegradable waste on our beaches.”
Minning added that a voluntary program, rather than one mandated by city ordinances, is more likely to gain the business and resident support so crucial to success, and to generate new ideas to reduce waste.
“I’m excited about being appointed to head this committee,” stated Minning. “It’s a great challenge, and the buy-in from Chamber members who want to participate is encouraging.”