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What makes a neighborhood?

April 5, 2009 - Scott Brenner
What makes a neighborhood?

It’s a simple question but think about it, it is so much more than a street with houses on it. It’s the expansion of who lives in a community; it’s the place where everybody calls home. It's a very special place. It’s where as a kid’s you first learn to ride a bike, where your friend next door stops over after dinner to pick you and take a walk with you. It’s the place you get to visit with the people who just moved in. Where you go to school and grow up. Or the gathering of friends, to pay respects to a neighbor who just passed away, a comforting gathering of family and friends. As with so many small daily activities which one takes for granted, the friendly wave or a nod as you drive by, or the bag of oranges or tomatoes that just appears at your front door? We all know who left them for you. And who waves back it’s the random act of kindness that in these tough times we are all facing today, which we really grow and appreciate people, especially our neighbors for being themselves and sharing their good nature. It’s the people that enrich the entire mosaic fabric of a neighborhood; it’s the greatest part of America. It is what we all are working for and where we go for shelter, comfort and live the life we seek. That’s what is so great about North Fort Myers, FL. It’s has the most acreage of natural 20/20 conservation acreage, we enjoy the blue water park away even its own dog park. As with the rest of the area North Fort Myers has its share of tough times, the former Lockmore Golf Course – Paradise Preserve planned community it had everything planned, a remodeled golf course, trophy club house even a marina then the economy fell apart. We need to take the prospective that it’s when times are the toughest when it seems like it’s a throw away or a do over it’s not! Ask the people who are living next to the defunct development(s) or the foreclosed homes. These neighborhoods of where people who staying, trying to earn a living and keep their house, these are the people who are really weathering the storm. Daily they see the desertion of the investment bankers bad choices, on making loans to investors who where never intending to become a neighbor they just saw an opportunity for a quick profit and now are victim of “bad timing”. Who’s to blame the banker, the builder or the Wall Street investor selling these mortgages as secured backed investments worldwide? In late 2005 profits where manufactured, books where “cooked” deals were made, that was then today is today. Just about the time the bubble was busting the SW FL real estate market back in 2006 North Fort Myers community Planning Panel came together as citizens of the community became organized with sub committees (land use, community character, transportation, health care, infrastructure, conservation & preservation, affordable housing, economic development and design review) enough to where Lee County Planning funded and awarded $50,000 HDR to documenting the future growth statement in North Fort Myers with changes and tweaking it was submitted back to Lee County Planning department and the NFMCPP who went through the plan line item by line item back in later 2007 and early 2008 and ultimately Lee County adopted as the “documentation instrument of future growth in North Fort Myers”. The next step in implementation of the NFM future vision growth is the writing it into the actual Lee County Plan document. In effect draft the words – write the Land Development Code (LDC) code which the governmental departments, zoning, planning, permitting and our elected officials will follow as community drafted path of progress for the North Fort Myers Future. Spring of 2008 the North Fort Myers Planning Panel adopted revised by-laws and disbanded all sub committees but one – the North Fort Myers Design Review Panel (which meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Chamber of Commerce at the Shell factory the public is invited). The new and improved NFMCPP Elected new officers and decided quarterly meeting would be more effective along with an annual report of progress. The first order of business on the 2008 agenda was to assist with Lee County officials in the selection process to engineers who responded to the RFQ (request to quote) that Lee County published and several local and regional engineering firms responded to the request. March 2009 was the NFMCPP Annual presentation report of the progress the NFMCPP made over the past year. Unfortunately both of the engineering firms which Lee County officials selected had conflicts of interest and had to excuse themselves from fulfilling the terms of the contract they agreed to [note the NFMCPP is one vote of a minimum of 3 lee county official members selecting the engineering firm]. So we are at the same point we were at back in 2008 seeking an engineering firm to contract with who does not have a conflict of interest with performing the terms of the contract. Some select firms had previous experience with similar LDC – Lee County contracts maybe we need “Fresh Firm” maybe go to a regional firm to avoid any future possibility of a conflict of interest and loss another year, Times are tough, neighborhoods are stressed we need leadership that can actually deliver the goods. THE PUBLIC LAW 110-2898-JULY 2008 HOUSING AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY ACT OF 2008, documents how, what, who, where both State and Local governments can receipt funds of such amount use such amounts to purchase and redevelop abandoned and foreclosed residential properties. Heading and referred to as Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and documented in the Federal Register Vol. 73, No 194/Monday October 6, 2008, page 58346 Grantee named LEE COUNTY FL $18,243,867, CAPE CORAL, FL $7,065,484 FORT MYERS FL 2,297,318 that’s a grand total of $27,606,669. But somehow this is great news or program is not getting the word out to the citizens of the affected areas! Not by our State Representative, our County Commissioners, it’s just the ticket we could all use good news Federal funds to stabilize our neighborhoods. At the last NFMCPP annual meeting Commissioner Tammy Hall was asked directly what Lee County can do to assist with blighted neighborhoods which surround the foreclosed properties, Commissioners Tammy Hall’s response was Lee County cannot wave a magic wand and make things better… Magic act was not the question, but her remark seems to surmise what it will take to get some action out her office. It is time we stop the “rocket docket” and stabilize our neighborhoods, with the funds the fed’s have set aside. We need leaders who can or want to stabilize our neighborhoods, we’re not looking for a magic act we’re just interested in preserving our neighborhoods is that to much to ask of our local government?


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