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North Fort Myers Civic Association supports concept of Paradise Isle
July 22, 2020

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Paradise Isle, the largest development project in the history of North Fort Myers, is ready to become a reality as the official Hearing Examiner dates for this project will commence on Wednesday July 29 and continue through Friday, July 31. The hearing for Paradise Isle will be held in the Lee County Commission Chambers beginning at 9 a.m. Public comment will begin at 1 p.m Thursday, July 30.

It has been no secret that Paradise Isle has been coming to North Fort Myers for several years now. There have been multiple townhall meetings hosted by the North Fort Myers Civic Association, NFM Community Planning Panel, NFM Chamber of Commerce, as well as information meetings hosted by the project developer in order to keep the community informed of the status of the project leading up to the Hearing Examiner date with Lee County. This project has now reached the point of county staff approval through the hearing examiner process in order to take the project to the Lee County Commission for the final vote, and then to commence with the actual development of the project.

There have been concerns by some residents of North Fort Myers that the Paradise Isle project will diminish the rural appeal of North Fort Myers. While other residents feel the project will only enhance and revitalize an area once known as a premier golfing destination in Southwest Florida when it was known as the Lochmoor Golf Course community.

The North Fort Myers Civic Association has taken the time and effort to speak to many residents, our association general membership, and North Fort Myers business owners concerning the Paradise Isle project over the past couple of years to gain a sense of how our community feels about this project to be developed in our own backyard. We also posted information articles on our Facebook site, to receive even more feedback from our community regarding Paradise Isle. Through this effort we have found that a majority of North Fort Myers residents favor the Paradise Isle project and see it as a revitalization to an area already made adaptable for this type of venue.

While there are residents that oppose the Paradise Isle project, for the area of North Fort Myers in which it is planned, no major rural area of our community will be adversely affected by the development of Paradise Isle. North Fort Myers is the largest unincorporated land area in Lee County at 54.4 square miles compared to the second largest area that of Lehigh Acres at 37.6 square miles in size. In fact, many residents in the major rural area of North Fort Myers which encompasses the Slater Road area and east of I-75 are actually closer to Downtown Fort Myers than to the proposed site of the Paradise Isle development.

The Paradise Isle development site currently sits abandoned since the closing of the Lochmoor Country Club at the south end of Orange Grove Blvd. The proposed site currently is an area in which homeless camps are wide spread, vegetation is vastly overgrown, and the transient population has increased tremendously over the past few years. A revitalization is sorely needed, and the Paradise Isle project is well made and well suited to bring this area back to the pristine community it once was to North Fort Myers.

The Paradise Isle development could have far reaching implications for the ongoing redevelopment of the North Fort Myers area. It may also bring renewed interest along the North 41 corridor, as this will be a major artery to reach Paradise Isle.

The North Fort Myers Civic Association voted at our July meeting to support the concept of the Paradise Isle project for the overall good of North Fort Myers. It is our hope that Lee County staff propose to the Lee County Commission from the Hearing Examiner meeting to allow the project to be developed and become a "North Fort Myers" destination for the betterment of our community. We also hope that with staff approval the Lee County Commission will also approve this project for North Fort Myers as well.

The North Fort Myers Civic Association will be at all of the Hearing Examiner meetings in support of this development for North Fort Myers. We strongly encourage anyone who would like to speak as to how you feel about the project to attend these meetings as well. You must attend the Hearing Examiner meeting in order to be allowed to also speak to the Lee County Commissioners regarding Paradise Isles at the time of the Commissioners vote.

Paradise Isle could be the gem of North Fort Myers and the beginning of something great for all of us. Let's make that happen, now is the time.

- Doug Dailey is the president of the North Fort Myers Civic Association

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