TO: Local Planning Agency

FROM: Carol Cunningham

DATE: March 31, 1997

SUBJECT: Summary of Comments and Input from "Enhancing Our Resources" Workshop



The following provides a summary of the "Enhancing our Resources" workshop, the second community-wide workshop for the comprehensive plan, held on March 22, 1997.

The specific purposes of this workshop were for the community to review and respond to the concepts developed by Dover, Kohl & Partners from the "Designing Our Town" Workshop, and to identify issues and propose recommendations to enhance and preserve the town's environmental, cultural, and historic resources.

More broadly, the workshop provided an opportunity to build upon the outreach network initiated in the first workshop; to expand the concept of what makes a "livable" community to include sustainable, accessible natural resource amenities; to find common ground and build cooperative relationships; and to see opportunities for hands-on involvement in the management and stewardship of the Town's resources.



After welcoming remarks from Mayor Anita Cereceda and John Mulholland, Chairman of the Local Planning Agency, Bill Spikowski provided an overview of the workshop.

Improving Our Community Through Urban Design

This presentation by Victor Dover of Dover, Kohl & Partners outlined the four basic community design ideas which emerged from the previous workshop "Designing our Town":

Victor Dover elaborated on these four basic ideas as follows:

Estero Boulevard -- "Tame It and Frame It"

Residential Streets -- "Achieve a Higher Ambition"


Redevelopment Areas of Focus

In addition to the Core Area which has been the subject of extensive planning, the areas of the Island which are the subject of special community design focus include:

Crescent Street to Bay Oaks

Pearl Street to the Red Coconut

Villa Santini Area

Island-Wide Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections


Community Input: Improving Our Community Through Urban Design

The following summarizes the discussion in the small groups which focused first on the Villa Santini area (11:30 group) and then on the Bay Oaks/Red Coconut areas (1:00 group).

Crescent Street to Bay Oaks/ Pearl Street to Red Coconut area




Villa Santini Area




Issues Related to Mother-in Law Apartments

Following Victor Dover's presentation, Bill Spikowski made a brief presentation of the issues related to mother-in-law apartments in Fort Myers Beach, inviting those interested in helping to formulate policy proposals to explore the issue in depth in the breakout group. The output of both sessions of discussion on this issue is summarized below.

Community Input: Issues Related to Mother-in Law Apartments

The following approach may be workable for new rules at Fort Myers Beach:

A comprehensive memorandum which identifies and evaluates options developed by the consulting team and reviewed by the public at this workshop and which recommends a policy direction for use in the comprehensive plan is being provided to the LPA for consideration in their April 8, 1997 meeting.


Enhancing our Natural and Cultural Assets: Overview

Our first speaker during this portion of the workshop was Roger Clark, Lee County Parks and Recreation, who provided an overview of the many environmental resources near Fort Myers Beach. He noted the opportunity to enhance the birding potential of Bowditch Point and the need for removal of the Australian Pines (enhancements that could be made regardless of the outcome of the current land swap under consideration). He reviewed the progress of re-vegetation of the Matanzas Pass Preserve, noting the availability of the recently completed Master Plan for the Preserve and inviting folks to join in the upcoming Preserve and Historic Cottage area work day scheduled for April 19. He provided an overview and status of implementation of the three phases of improvements planned for Lovers Key.


Matanzas Pass Preserve

Lois Gressman, Friends of the Matanzas Pass Preserve, reviewed the history of the Preserve, its ultimate transfer to Lee County, and the history of the Town's dedication to its preservation, including formation of the non-profit organization "Friends of the Matanzas Pass." Lois explained why the Preserve is important in our ecological system and reviewed the opportunities for educational use and for "hands-on" involvement in managing and caring for the Preserve.

Lois and Roger conducted tours through the Matanzas Pass Preserve throughout the remainder of the workshop.


Island History/Historic Cottage

A.J. Bassett, resident of Fort Myers Beach since 1940, reviewed the history of the development and character of Fort Myers Beach from tiny fishing village to bustling tourist destination. She emphasized that to grow as a community, people must be willing to give things back. Her presentation culminated in describing the most recent achievement of the Fort Myers Beach Historical Society, the completion and opening of the Historic Cottage which was moved to its current location, refurbished, and is soon to serve as both museum and interpretive center for the Preserve.

Those who took the Matanzas Pass Preserve tour also viewed Lois Gressman's slide presentation of the natural features of the Preserve and Judy Fitzsimons' slide presentation of the history of development on the Island, and toured the Historic Cottage.


Heritage and Nature-Based Tourism

Arden Arrington, naturalist/historian of Calusa Coast Outfitters introduced his session on Heritage and Nature-Based Tourism. He re-emphasized the concept that successful tourism hinges on the memories that people take back with them. He noted that Florida tourism studies find that the interest has shifted significantly towards visiting natural and cultural sites (as opposed to merely commercial attractions). Ironically, the increasing number of people visiting Fort Myers Beach and the surrounding area will impact the very resources they are coming here to see. He noted the need for thinking in terms of sustainability of resources and for educating folks on how to conserve them.

Community Input: Following a slide presentation in the breakout group, participants identified issues and made recommendations:




Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area and Related Beach Systems

Ilene Barnett, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, spoke about Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area and related beach systems, defining beaches as "shorefront areas of un-consolidated" and noting these areas are always evolving. She demonstrated the evolution of Little Estero Island with a series of aerial photos dating back to the 1940's. In describing the need to protect and preserve our beach areas, she noted that beaches are the first line of defense in a storm and cited the importance of dune vegetation in encouraging the beach to grow naturally. Little Estero Island, home to over 150 species, is becoming nationally known and used by many bird and wildlife photographers.

Community Input: Following a slide presentation in the breakout group, participants formulated their vision for the future of Little Estero Island: keep it natural and continue to enhance protection of wildlife and habitat. Participants then identified issues and made recommendations:




Aquatic Preserve/Harbor Issues

Joanne Semmer, President of the Ostego Bay Foundation, spoke about the formation and current educational, research, and conservation work of the Foundation and brought exhibits of marine life found in the Bay area. She described the network of activities at the waterfront related to the fishing and shrimping industry, and made the link to the need for conservation of water quality in the bay to the health of these industries. She described the oil spill cleanup functions undertaken by an industry cooperative as one example of conservation activities.

Heather Stafford, State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection, spoke about the jurisdictional responsibilities of her agency in this area and the functions of her office. She described the location, extent, and function of the Aquatic Preserve and buffer area, and the location for public access.

Community Input: During the breakout group sessions, participants described their vision for the Harbor as being cleaner and having a positive impact on the quality of life. They identified issues and provided recommendations as follows:





Information and input from this workshop will be used by the consultant team and the LPA in formulating policy for the following comprehensive plan elements, which will be provided in preliminary draft form to the LPA beginning this spring: