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Civic & Community Corner: Multi-function Renaissance Affair a smash success

June 14, 2017
By Mike Land , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Civic Association threw one heckuva blast last 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 6 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 NFM. Association Director Maryannne Howard served as facilitator of the latter forum and did a masterful job. Tina Sheridan, Sherry Diaz, Dee Fugere, Marnie Biggs, Ron and Sandy Marius, Louise Bain, Rosemary Ryan, Beverly Smith, and others eagerly participated in the lively discussion. Pledges of $200 each were made by yours truly on behalf of Mike Land Realty, Marnie Biggs of Sun Country Homes and Realty and Connie Besco to enable it to incorporate as a non-profit L.L.C. and register with PayPal so the group can accept donations online, and open a checking account. Anyone interested in giving or taking lessons in any genre of the arts, or in helping with publicity, promotion, website or other aspect of this prodigious undertaking, please contact me or Maryanne at 570-862-4120. Perhaps we can form a NFM Chorus? I know there is plenty of talent, out singing, leading, accompanying, organizing, fundraising, etc. Just volunteer in any area of performing, fine or visual arts - it will give your life new meaning!

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. Calling all management companies, club managers, HOA and other community leaders who didn't receive an invitation to send me their contact info and the other leaders of your community's contact info and submit any Agenda items relating to issuess common to other communities for our next gathering.

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. 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, reflecting untold hours of tedious work by Veep Rudy Berndlmaier. 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, and distributed to key agencies on a local, county and state level, and displayed on our website, 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, Good Shepherd Church, Laura Borgersen, Realtor, United Baptist Church, Mike Land, Realtor, The Shell Factory, Best Western Hotel, Corporate Quarters, Majestic Enterprises, Dr. Joseph Campbell, Sherry L. Diaz, artist and others.

The main program was entitled "The North Fort Myers Renaissanc , Part II - After The Market Assessment Report, Now What?" and featured a slide presentation by Rachel Busch, Strategic Projects Manager, 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 (contact me for a discount card).

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 Needs For NFM" prepared by the NFM Community Planning Panel and The Civic Association and which has previously been published in this column, are Community Development items, not economic Development, and so I have submitted them to CD Head Dave Loveland, in addition to the five elected county commissioners. Stay tuned for news of any progress. So far none.

The long afternoon/evening came to an end when we awarded 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 a Sunday Italian Buffet for four people. All attendees left happy, full, and a little more informed on the issues facing North Fort Myers than before, with renewed vows to help with North Fort Myers's Renaissance!

The North Fort Myers Community Planning Panel and The NFM Design Review Panel, which hold joint meetings on the first Tuesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. at The NFM Rec Center, (except next month because the meeting falls on July 4th and the Rec Center is closed for that holiday so the meeting will be on July 11th from 6 to 7) has a vacancy and YOU just might be the one to fill it. Any NFM resident, lot or business owner is eligible for this volunteer position, and so I suggest that you review our website,, and contact me.

At the last meeting on June 6, the Design Review Panel after hearing these applications and considering the site plans, elevations and other materials submitted by the applicants made the following decisions:

* McDonald's Restaurant at 13741 N. Cleveland Ave: proposed remodeling of entire building utilizing red bold lettering, black tiles and black painted stucco, side-by-side drive-throughs, digital menu boards in a modern-looking package. Panel pointed out that our Land Development Code specifies "Old Florida Architecture" for NFM and that this parcel is directly across the street from The Town Center which is expected to be developed in that style. Panel recommended approval of the proposal if, and only if, the exterior be modified to reflect "Old Florida Architecture" including but not limited to the use of a seamed metal Mansard on the elevation facing N. Cleveland Ave.

* 13501 N. Cleveland Ave.- Site of an abandoned Walgreen's wherein contract purchaser seeks a special exception for the number of fuel pumps allowed at a proposed gasoline service station. Panel made sure applicant was aware of the possibility of extending Hancock Bridge Parkway eastwardly, and what that might mean to traffic patterns. Panel had no objection to the request.


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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