The Tenth Annual Town Hall Meeting sponsored by the NFM Community Planning Panel played to a standing room only crowd of about 100 concerned citizens at The NFM Recreation Center on Thursday, Feb. 23. Yours truly as the chair of said Panel began by introducing our welcome speaker, County Commissioner Brian Hamman, who briefly touched on the $50,000 Market Assessment just released 16 months after it was announced by The Commissioner on Oct. 9, 2015 at a sold-out Renaissance Campaign kickoff sponsored by the NFM Civic Association.
Commissioner Hamman explained the details regarding his idea for a free water shuttle operating between the two shores of the Caloosahatchie River, hopefully starting next winter. I showed him a List of Needs for NFM, but it was so hastily prepared that I didn't have a chance to send him a copy and he needed some time to digest it before commenting, although he did field many questions from the audience before his 35-minute talk was up and his very capable assistant, Matt Spielman, reminded him that he had another speaking engagement.
So I have added another couple of items to the list and emailed it to Commissioner Hamman for his consideration, actions and response, so below is my "11Things weneed in North Fort Myers" list. Once a month in this column I will re-publish this list with notes as to any response or actions by Commissioner Hamman and others.
ELEVEN THINGS WE NEED IN NORTH FORT MYERS
1. Since a sale is currently not feasible, Lee County should forthwith begin the search and solicitation for a partner to advantageously develop the former Waterway Estates sewage parcel and include it within the "riverfront commercial district opt-in zoning" referred to in item 3 below.
2.Adding sidewalks in front of the proposed Enclaves RPD project at Bayshore and Donald for safety of children waiting there for school buses, and for pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
3.Asking the Commissioners to instruct the County Planners to investigate the possibility of adding a "riverfront commercial district" to our Zoning Code to allow the owner of a residentially-zoned parcel three acres or larger fronting on the river to "opt-in" and to elect to have it zoned "riverfront commercial" to be used for hotel- motel, restaurant, bar, entertainment, shopping area, Boardwalk, marina, marine repairs and water sports. Certain areas would be exempted from this district including residential developments, schools and houses of worship including a buffer of at least 200 yards from such exempt areas, and other areas deemed advisable by the County Planners. This would encourage assemblage, investment and development as suggested by the Market Assessment Report along our prime but largely commercially undeveloped 18 miles of riverfront.
4. Asking the Commissioners to instruct County Staff to begin the process to amend the NFM Land Development Code to change any reference therein pertaining to the use of "Old Florida Architecture" from "suggested" to "required" and to advise county staff to begin enforcing same; and to advise BBS and W Architects to incorporate more elements of Old Florida Architecture in its proposed Library plans so as to better blend with the adjacent NFM Recreation Center built 3 years ago.
5. A North Fort Myers Cultural Arts Center, located initially within the new library. The $50,000 Market Assessment often refers to the lack of such a facility as possibly dissuading potential investors from investing in NFM.
6. Street lighting along Bayshore Road from Rt. 41 to Walmart's;
7. Ask the County to investigate the possible purchase of a 5.5 acre parcel of land at 4055 Hancock Bridge Parkway for use as a public park to possibly be used as a kayak, canoe and rowboat launch, and for softball fields, a skateboard park, pickle ball, bocce and more, to be determined by the department of Parks and Recreation;
8. To begin the installation of "Welcome To North Fort Myers" signs, with "Leaving North Fort Myers - Please return soon" on the reverse side of them, placed at the border of Cape Coral on both sides of Pine Island Road, and also at the northerly foot of The Caloosahatchee Bridge in both directions. Explore completing an application for funding this through FDOT.
9. Upgrade the tropical landscaping and general appearance of North Shore Park, our "FACE" and spread a layer of sand upon a portion of it to restore the "Beach" that used to exist there.
10. A digital sign at Business 41 and the entrance to N. Recreation Park Way, upon which would be displayed that day's activities at the Public Library and the Recreation Center.
11. A program that will lead to correcting flooding and storm water drainage, and installation of central sewer, in the Town Hall Center area, and thereafter along Pine Island/Bayshore Road from Cape Coral to I-75.
The next speaker, Dan Avellone of Regions Bank, and Treasurer of Horizon Council's NFM Commercial Corridors Revitalization Task Force (a name that just flows freely out of your mouth) did a wonderful job explaining who they were and what they are doing in NFM, showing his silver-tongued orator skills. Next was Rachel Bush of the Lee County Economic Development Office who has worked continuously with the three firms that the county hired to do this 286-page Market Assessment. She did a great job summarizing the report and emphasized that it begins with stricter Code Enforcement and stricter Code rules and regs, creation of a NFM Cultural Arts Center, and development of a sense of "place" in NFM with increased pride and participation by its residents. Other speakers were Bob Konior who is a Code Enforcement officer in NFM and Mike Pavese who ran through the floor plans and elevations for the proposed new $13 million library, followed by the first-ever Communities Forum where we invited over 40 of NFM communities to this meeting to discuss common issues, concerns and some solutions. They concluded that the Civic Association would circulate among the communities a contact list so they could continue the exchange of ideas, and that there would be another Communities Forum, limited to just that subject and attended by only community managers and officers in a few months. And most importantly, contrary to what has happened at other Town halls across the country I am pleased to report that their were no protests, shouting or other misbehavior, all of the participants from the audience being well-mannered, respectful and not abusive to anyone.
The Civic Association is holding its next meeting on March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Rec Center where elections of all officers and one director will be on the Agenda, along with a full Agenda of ideas and events and a speaker JoAnne Gillespie who is an expert on social media and who will tell you how to fix what you are doing wrong and how to do it right. The Farmers Market at Shell Factory is now on Tuesday mornings; the Clean Up Business 41 from the Bridge to Bayshore assembles at Weavers' Corner on Saturday, March 18, at 9 am-come help us, and the Flapjack Funfest at Applebee's is Saturday March 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. Come help us, join and have some fun with a Flapjack Eating Contest and a flapjack-flipping race! For 12 bucks you get a platter of pancakes, eggs, potatoes and a soft drink, no tip needed. Come mix and bring your contacts.
"PUBLIC APATHY IS THE PLAGUE OF THE 21ST CENTURY! VOLUNTEER-IT'S GOOD FOR THE MIND AND THE HEART." MIKE LAND
Contact me at 239-823-3631 or email@example.com if you have some event, project or idea that you would like in this column, or with any comments or questions. Visit www.northfortmyerscivicassociation.com.