County approves design funds for new North Fort Myers Community Center
The Lee County Board of County Commissioners approved a Professional Services Agreement on Nov. 3 for the start of the much-anticipated North Fort Myers Community Park.
One key function of the center will be an emergency shelter but it will also serve as a meeting room and recreational facility.
“We’re very excited to have the design funds approval,” said District 5 Commissioner Tammy Hall. “We want to make sure we get the community involved with the new center. She said that after work plans are completed, there will be several forums where citizens can give input. We’ll work with various organizations to get people engaged and get their input. It will be a partnership.”
Hall said she hopes for a 2011 groundbreaking for the center.
“The funds that were approved are basically the fee basically for architects, landscape architects and site engineers to create the new community center,” said Jeff Mudgett of the architectural firm Parker/ Mudgett/Smith Architects, Inc. who was awarded $454,925 for the contract.
The firm is responsible for the much-admired Estero Community Center.
“We got a lot of positive feedback for that building and will take that as a starting point. It’s a combination of sports activities with multi-purpose rooms for the community to use. The rest comes from the county. Lee County Parks and Recreation does a superb job in making the buildings do what they are supposed to do.”
“We’re incredible excited to work with the community there,” he added.
“The construction will cost somewhere in the $8 to 9 million range, which will be in the 2012 Capital Budget,” said Jim Lavender, Lee County Public Works Director. “I encourage anyone interested in the project to visit the Estero building.”
One organization and its members that are especially pleased with the go-ahead is The North Fort Myers Civic Association.
Gregg Makepeace, president of the North Fort Myers Civic Association has been a proponent for the new center for almost five years.
“There is a condition here of need versus want. The need is a shelter, a Class 5 Shelter for those that would need it during a disastrous storm. That is the main need. Lee County itself if very shy of that kind of shelter. We have so many manufactured homes, There will be some people, even if we evacuative, that just can’t. The want part of it is we want a place for the community to meet en masse and I’m looking forward to having that here. Also, children have a need for the center, especially in the summer when school is out, for organized recreation. It keeps them off the streets and gives them something to do.”
He hopes a bus route will be established there.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if the bus system would be convenient for them to come there, so parents may not have them drive them,” he asked.
He said there is very little for kids to do in North Fort Myers. Parks and Recreation does have some things for children but this would add more.
“For seniors, meeting places are shy unless you live in one of the communities that have their own facilities for meetings. There really is nothing for the community in total, and this would provide it. Meeting rooms are very scarce in general, especially this time of year when the snowbirds are back.”
Makepeace said he thanked each commissioner individually at the Board of Commission meeting, but said local Commissioner Tammy Hall should especially be recognized.
“She has been behind this since she became our commissioner,” he said.
Jack Howerton, Vice President of the Civic Association, said he has been campaigning for the center for five years as well.
“I agree with Gregg that there is a great need. We have the need for space for so many functions – we can then gather so many, for so many things.
We’ve identified primary projects and this is one of them where we pushed and pushed to get it.”
“Our membership needs expansion,” said Civic Association Publicity Chairman Bill Hanners. He said they do many projects, including getting Welcome Signs for North Fort Myers in two strategic areas north and south as well as campaigning for the center.
What is the next big project for the Civic Association now that the Community Center is moving forward?
“A new or expanded library for North Fort Myers,” said Makepeace.
“Anybody from November on going into the current library can see why it is needed. It is just not capable of handling the crowd.”
The North Fort Myers Civic Association for the betterment of the community meets every second Tuesday of the month at the Community of
Christ Church at 368 Herron Rd. at 7 p.m. The public is invited.
For Civic Association membership call Hanners at 543-3501. For additional information on the Civic Association itself call Makepeace at 567-0740.