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Civic & Community Corner: A NFM cultural arts center: Join the Earth Day rally at Hancock Bridge Plaza
April 19, 2017

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The North Fort Myers Civic Association will hold an Earth Day rally this Saturday, April 22, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Hancock Bridge Plaza on Rt. 41, a block from The Caloosahatchee River, between Perkins Restaurant and Regions Bank.

Every resident of North Fort Myers and everyone who sympathizes with our plight should take part, demonstrating peacefully. Bring your own signs, (no profanity, please) and march with us and listen to stimulating speeches.

This mostly-empty shopping center, which once housed the Walmart, and later an Office Depot, has deteriorated. Thousands of cars pass by every hour and see this empty plaza. More than any other area of North Fort Myers, this is "ground zero," right in the middle of what our county planners have designated as The Town Center where the "experts" predict Our Town's revitalization will be born.

Right now this plaza is owned by a group of investors in Miami who don't respond to letters, telephone calls or speaking invitations and don't spend a cent to improve anything.

Perhaps a demonstration, with many people marching there with signs suggesting solutions, those responsible and our honest emotions, with many members of the local and Miami media invited to attend, will wake up those who can help us.

Some history: On Oct. 9, 2015 at The North Fort Myers Renaissance Campaign Kick-Off sponsored by the NFM Civic Association, Commissioner Hamman announced a $50,000 allocation that the Lee County Commissioners made for a Market Assessment of this Town Center, and the County and NFM residents sat back and waited some 16 months for the Market Assessment to be developed and publicly presented, confident that these three firms of experts would have all the answers.

Well, when the Market Assessment was analyzed, it was mostly about what we could not be, like a retail center, and the concrete suggestions were for a waterfront amphitheater, with perhaps a cultural arts center and the possibility of becoming an office center.

There is no long line of investors or developers waiting on line to create these things, so after 18 months we've come to the realization that we've got to bootstrap ourselves, hopefully with help from our county commissioners and County Manager, Roger Desjarlais.

So the first step towards saving ourselves is this Saturday at The Earth Day Rally.

Come bring your friends, neighbors, family, and more and let's show the media that we have passion, determination and civic pride.

Bring your own signs and demonstrate for an hour and a half of your precious time that "we are fed up and we're not going to take it any more!" Lend us your support and let's get this Renaissance started!

A month ago I presented to our five County Commissioners and County Manager a list of Eleven Things We Need In North Fort Myers, and I told you that once a month in this column I would give you a "scorecard" of what has been discussed or transpired during the month.

The short answer this month is. very little.

The Civic Association had applied for a Grant from USA Today and I asked you in my last column to vote every day, but our application was rejected for reasons that they have declined to reveal, so you can stop voting, and thank you.

We continue to strive for a NFM Cultural Arts Center, and have appointed Maryanne Howard and Dora Miller as co-chairs who will schedule an organizational committee and invite art instructors, artists, patrons of the arts, art students and anyone else who would like to help. They will seek Grants and start some classes. If you are interested in helping in any way, call them at 239-731-8732and 239-281-4882 and if they are not in leave your name, number and email.

The Horizon Council NFM Commercial Corridor Revitalization Task Force is working on preparing a set of incentives to present to the Commissioners and considering changing the zoning in The Town Center area to increase the density to make it more profitable for developers. They have been meeting for over two years and it would be nice if they could have solid proposals soon.

I am sad to inform you that two of the greatest champions North Fort Myers has ever had are leaving town on April 22 and moving to California to be with their three sons. Gregg and Bonnie Makepeace have been the heart and soul of the NFM Civic Association for over a decade, Gregg serving as president for most of that time and Bonnie was with him at most of the meetings and events, and always had a smile and a hug for everyone. I visited with Bonnie for an hour Friday at The Coral Trace Convalescent Home in Cape Coral where she is recuperating from fractures resulting from a fall and a back fracture resulting from lifting a heavy chair at home. She is in a lot of pain but this trooper is preparing for a seven-day cross country car ride next Saturday. She led a hula dancing ensemble for years performing at all sorts of public events and nursing homes. Gregg was my inspiration for becoming involved in the NFMCA and in public life. He would often devote 60 or 80 hours a week to these efforts and was selected last year as "Lee County's Outstanding Citizen." Gregg worked for eight years to make the NFM Recreation Center a reality and has been one of the moving forces over the last few years that has resulted in Lee County's commitment to build us a new Library at a cost of $3 million bucks. He was also instrumental in the formation of the NFM Community Planning Panel and the NFM Design Review Panel and has been a member since they were created. Even recently, after his term as President of the Civic Association, he attends almost all of the meetings of these three organizations and the Library Task Force. I will be eternally indebted to both, will miss them mucho, and I wish them the best of luck and Bon Voyage! Don't let them leave town feeling unappreciated. Please call them before Friday at 239-567-0740 and tell them how much you appreciate their many years of public service to NFM. Thanks.

At a meeting last Tuesday evening, April 11, at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center, the North Fort Myers Civic Association did the following:

-Passed, subject to General Membership approval next month, some amendments to our By-Laws.

-Renewed our Liability and officers and Directors Insurance.

-Decided to print 10,000 detailed maps of NFM showing virtually every street, community, house of worship, public building, point of interest, with a Promotional Brochure on the rear, extolling the virtues and opportunities of NFM, and we will be selling ads on it, at $100 and $200 and more for larger ads. If interested in buying one, call me.

We agreed to do a cocktail membership party at the Dolphin Room at Capt'n Fishbones at The Shell Factory, tentatively set for June 1, admission free to include free hors d'oeuvres, entertainment, coupon for a raffle to win a gift certificate for a dinner for two, the first cocktail free, featuring a prominent local speaker and more. Stay tuned as we finalize this!

-Passed a motion requesting that Lee County DOT and Florida DOT promptly install a traffic light at the Route 41 entrance to the Shell Factory directly across from the entrance to Tamiami Village, the scene of a recent and past traffic fatalities

The Association is starting early to solicit food donations for our Fourth of July BBQ/Fireworks Festival. Mark your calendars for that date, starting at 6 at the Community Park Food Stand. It's fun and free to the community! Entertainment and a Talent Contest. If you'd like to provide either contact me.

Agreed to co-sponsor with new member Jim Boyer, territorial manager of Storm Smart, a Hurricane and Lightning Seminar at The Share Club at the Rec center on June 20 at 10 a.m. Mark your calendar and spread the word to attend this informative session. For those who cannot attend, we will co-sponsor another one at 6 p.m., since the morning and evening seminars will attract different audiences.

The North Fort Myers Design Review Panel will meet, as usual, on the first Tuesday of the month, May 2, at the Rec Center, jointly with the NFM Community Planning Panel. The Agenda is still in the formative stage.

And finally, note my new email address below, which I created to just deal with North Fort Myers Civic Affairs-no real estate business, no ads, etc.

"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 mike.nfmca@gmail.com if you have some event, project or idea that you would like in this column, or with any comments or questions. Visit northfortmyerscivicassociation.com.

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