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Civic & Community Corner: Civic Association's multi-function affair was a blast!

June 7, 2017
By Mike Land ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Civic Association threw one heckuva blast Friday night, June 2 at The Dolphin Room, Capt'n Fishbones Restaurant, The Shell Factory. It began as a proposal by Tom Cronin, proprietor of The Shell Factory, himself a long-time member of the Association, to throw a cocktail party to increase membership. Tom agreed to lend the room, free hors d'oeuvres, free entertainment in the form of Tona Wong, a Hawaiian singer, keyboard player and disc jockey who provided pleasant background music, and a free first cocktail to all. The delicious buffet included shrimp, chicken and pineapple skewers, cheese balls, stuffed mushrooms, assorted cheese cubes and crackers, honey dew and cantaloupe - enough to satisfy the hungriest of tummies during the 4 to 8 p.m. party.

The Civic Association, not satisfied to simply throw a cocktail party with a membership drive, and a chow down, used the venue to also host three meetings. At 4 p.m. one end of the room hosted a Communities Forum and the other hosted an organizational meeting to start a cultural arts program in North Fort Myers. Association Director Maryannne Howard served as facilitator and did a masterful job. The name selected by the group is The Palms Cultural Arts Center, since it is expected to draw participants from Cape Coral and other nearby places. Tina Sherman, Sherry Diaz, Dee Fugere, Marnie Biggs, Ron and Sandy Marius, Louise Bain, Rosemary Ryan and Beverly Smith, and others eagerly participated in the lively discussion. Pledges of $200 each were made by yours truly, Marnie Biggs of Sun Country Homes and Realty and Connie Besco to enable it to register as a fictitious name, incorporate as a non-profit L.L.C. and register with PayPal so the group can accept donations online, get a domain name and build a website through Go-Daddy. It turns out that Tina is a wizard with a cell phone and could accomplish much of that by 7 p.m.

The other 4 p.m. gathering, The NFM Communities Forum, brought together a diverse group of gated and ungated communities which are the very fabric of this town, mobile home parks and houses of worship. They submitted their contact info to yours truly who acted as facilitator and who will distribute copies of the contact spreadsheet so they can start communicating amongst themselves. The original version of this Communities Forum played out at The Town Hall Meeting in February and was well-received by participating communities at that time, resulting in this follow up where many participants submitted names of contractors whom they recommended. We'll do this again towards the end of the year.

And at 7 p.m. came the core of the day's activities. Maryanne Howard gave a report on the Cultural Arts 4 p.m. gathering. By the way, this fast-moving group is meeting again on Wednesday, June 8, at 5:30 p.m. at Sun Country Realty on the north side of Pondella Circle just east of Orange Grove. Everyone who can contribute ideas, time or talent is invited. Yours truly, acting as Master of Ceremonies, displayed the detailed Map of NFM showing just about every street, every community, every house of worship, and all the major points of interest. The Map will be almost 2 feet wide and three feet high, and 10,000 copies will be printed on good paper, suitable for framing or hanging on a wall, with a Promotional Brochure of NFM printed on the rear. Ads were grabbed by members of the audience including Wendy Fahl of Sewing Boutique, John Gardner of Lee County Insurance, Holy Trinity Church, Stefan of PEACH Rowing and Athletic Club, Sun Country Homes and Realty, Laura Borgersen, Realtor, Mike Land, Realtor and many others.

The main program was entitled "THE NORTH FORT MYERS RENAISSANCE, PART II-After The Market Assessment Report, Now What?" and featured a slide presentation by Rachel Busch, Strategic Projects, with Lee County Economic Development Office. She reviewed the efforts of Horizon Council's NFM Commercial Corridors Task Force, including its extensive website. Online and social media contacts, and its Dine Local 10 percent discount plan. The EDO has prepared a "package" of 13 things suggested by the Market Assessment Report for the county commissioners to consider over the summer, so hopefully we'll have something concrete in the fall. Rachel said that most of the items on the "List of Things We Need For NFM" which has previously been published in this column, are community development items, not economic development, and so I will submit them to CD Head Dave Loveland.

The long afternoon/evening came to an end when we raffled off gift certificates donated by Three Fishermen Restaurant, Che Tito's and Bianca's, as well as a "surprise "donation by Jim Lee, new restaurant manager of Capt'n Fishbones for an Italian Buffet for four people. All attendees left happy, full and a little more informed on the issues facing NFM than before, with renewed vows to participate in NFM's Renaissance!


Contact me at 239-823-3631 or if you have some event, project or idea that you would like in this column, or with any comments or questions. Visit



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