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Civic & Community Corner: Rally around a name change for North Fort Myers
July 12, 2017

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Favorable comments and thank-you's continue to come in regarding the cocktail party that the NFM Civic Association threw on June 2, but the most surprising and meaningful one was a call I got from Tom Cronin, owner of The Shell Factory, just out of the hospital, thanking ME for some nice thanks that I gave HIM for proposing and hosting our cocktail party, and providing free drinks, food and entertainment! So not to be outdone Tom, thanks again for your generosity.

And speaking of The Shell Factory, have you noticed that they have re-painted their iconic yellow arches? The most recognized landmark in NFM is looking good again! Kudos to Ric Tupper, CFO of The Shell Factory for making it happen, after a complaining neighbor called it to our attention at our Farmers' Market Welcome and Information Booth.

And as a final note on that Shell Factory cocktail party, the group that met at our Forum party to form a NFM Cultural Arts Center, and decided to call it The Palms Cultural Arts Center, has now formed a non-profit corporation under the name of "Lee County Arts Center, Inc.". Anyone interested in helping in any way, please contact Maryanne Howard, 570-862-4120.

I received a call from Pastor Van Garner of The Church of the Nazarene advising that they have booked Larry Gatlin, formerly of The Gatlin Brothers, a powerhouse country singer to headline their show on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. February? So why am I telling you about it now? That venue only seats 500 folks, so get your tix soon.239-567-0150, nftmyersnaz72@yahoo.com. I will remind you again as we get closer.

I mentioned in my last column that our speaker last month was Jesse Lavender, new head of the county's Parks and Recreation Department. What I failed to mention was that our Civic Association, at the suggestion of Dora Miller, a member of our Board of Directors, had asked Mr. Lavender for permission to embark on a Personalized Paver Project on the entry sidewalk to the Rec Center, where people could buy an engraved paver in memory of a loved one, or with their own names engraved thereon, with company logos, artwork, etc . We would run the entire project-advertisement, sale, installation, website, paperwork, from beginning to end, and offered to split the profits evenly with Lee County. Mr. Lavender responded that the county's Parks and Recreation Manual stipulates that such a project can only be done at Lakes Park and at Cypress Slough. This is an injustice to the people of NFM! Why should they have to travel 30 or 40 minutes each way to pay tribute to their personalized paver? Why would anyone buy a paver at such a remote location? And why shouldn't the residents of NFM have the right to buy a paver at their own Rec Center? And how does such a right adversely affect the County? If you agree with us would you please contact our two NFM Commissioners, Brian Hamman and Frank Mann and let them and me know your support on this matter, and ask them to amend their manual accordingly.

And if you are interested in knowing what I've heard from County Government in response to the List of Things We Need In North Fort Myers that I presented to the County Commissioners months ago and to Dave Loveland, head of Community Development for Lee County last month, the answer is easy - no accomplishments, no progress, no acknowledgments of receipt. Are we left to conclude that our county government just ignores the residents of North Fort Myers? Please contact them to dispel my conjecture, please.

On June 2, it was my pleasure to participate with Jim Boyer, a Civic Association new member and the territorial manager of Storm Smart, in a Hurricane and Lightning Seminar that we co-sponsored at the Rec Center's Share Club. Jim gave a slide show presentation on hurricanes, a subject that he is well qualified to handle and I followed up with research that I had gathered on the other natural hazards that we face in Florida: lightning, flooding, heat and tornadoes. You've all probably heard that "Florida is the lightning capital of the USA", but it hit home last week when a local pregnant woman was felled by a lightning bolt. The best and most succinct lightning advice that I can give you is that if you hear thunder, get indoors quickly. Jim and I enjoyed working together, so if you are part of an organization of any kind that would like to host such a seminar-community, church, charity, whatever, just contact me and we'll make it happen. Fruit, pastries, drinks and handouts.

And finally, and most significantly, I ask you to support the concept of a change of name for our little slice of unincorporated Lee County. The name "North Fort Myers" evokes no sense of beauty, nor a place where you want to be, live, work, do business or play, nor a passion or desire-it only tells one that it is a place north of Fort Myers. We should have our own identity, not be tailgating on the reputation or assets of our older and larger neighbor. Sure, it requires a little work, but nothing worth accomplishing was ever achieved without some sweat.

And sure, it will result in some expense to change road signs, telephone directories, business cards, postal records and the like, and some red tape at the county and state level, but this will be minor compared to continuing to decay in every way under the burden of this unimaginative, non-descriptive geographical moniker.

This town has no pride, rampant public apathy, no creativity, no passion, no new business or industry, decaying strip malls and shopping centers and little help or hope in sight. I am not advocating that we incorporate as our own city - it is too expensive and we don't have the rateables to support separate facilities and services.

I just think we should change the name of our area with the hope that this would serve as a catalyst for change. And maybe a new name might attract one or more major developers to inject some new capital, ideas, enthusiasm, projects, enthusiasm. Yes, there are some who will say that first we have to improve this town before we can change the name, but I say that the change might never come first. Some will say "If it ain't broke don't fix it", but don't look now - it IS BROKEN - just look around.

Change the name to the right name and they will come.

And how do we pick the right name? I say the Civic Association should run a contest over a period of a few months, with a nice prize for the winner as determined by a blue ribbon panel of local dignitaries.

Pessimists, status-quoers, dreamers, optimists, nay-sayers, delayers, eager beavers: all are invited to give us your input.

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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