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List of sites for new North Fort Myers Library down to two

By Staff | Jun 23, 2015

Tuesday, one more baby step was taken on the road to having a brand new library in North Fort Myers become a reality when the Board of Lee County Commissioners pared down the number of potential sites.

Lee County staff recommended the current site of the old library on 2001 N. Tamiami Trail over another parcel down the road that will serve as a joint venture for another Lee County project.

The BOCC also authorized staff to begin negotiations with the land owners of the adjacent property.

“I’m hoping we have a successful negotiation and we’ll come up with a good price for the taxpayers and ultimately provide a nice library for the people of North Fort Myers,” County Commissioner Brian Hamman said.

Linda Yorde, of the Friends of the North Fort Myers Library, said she was thrilled with the news.

“We’re very happy with the action they took choosing the current site as the preferred site. We hope the current owners will negotiate in good faith and come up with a reasonable price so we can proceed,” Yorde said.

Staff recommended eventually razing the current 9,000-square-foot structure for a new library nearly three times the size, but that’s contingent on the county being able to purchase two parcels next to the existing library.

Betsie Hiatt, the environmental manager for the Lee County Department of Public Works, said in the report the two undeveloped parcels located to the south of the library are comprised of upland indigenous vegetation including slash pines, live oaks, cabbage palms and saw palmetto. The danger is that protected species may inhabit the site, requiring a special permit.

Mike Pavese, of Lee County Public Works, added that the existing library is permitted in the C-2 (commercial district), while the two parcels are zoned AG-2 (agricultural), requiring a zoning change that could take between six and nine months.

The acquisition would give the new library much more parking than the current facility, which has scarce few spaces.

Yorde said the new library would be built in the southwest corner of the acquired property, allowing the old library to remain open during construction.

If that cannot be executed, an alternative site at 2805 N. Tamiami Trail, which is almost two miles north of the existing library, will be considered.

This option, which would be on county property, would be a joint venture with Lee Tran for their future transfer center. This location could be troublesome, however, as it is located in a flood zone.

In the recommendation report, Hiatt said there is a one-acre cattail marsh in the northwest area. While there are existing Lee County wetland mitigation credits available should they need to impact the area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit process is currently taking 12-18 months to obtain individual dredge and fill permits, required when greater than a half acre wetland impact proposed.

Pavese said most of the area is zoned commercial, but some areas would have to be rezoned if the plan encroached into any of the agricultural areas.

A big plus for the site is that it would be a joint venture between Lee Tran and the library and that people from the northern Lee County would be able to use public transportation to get there.

But unlike the current location, new impact fees would be required for water and sewer, with the possibility that the later might not be available in that area. Also, its location between the new and old 41s, could prove troublesome.

Also, Option B carries a higher cost of $700,000, which would be more than $12 million, as moving and infrastructure costs would be added.