located on the south side of
and River Ranch
Thursday, January 11th
Meeting of the Bonita Springs City Council and the leaders of
the following Estero Organizations: Estero Civic Association;
Estero Community Planning Panel and the Estero Council of
SpringsCity Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road (about ½ mile
east of US 41)
Estero Civic Association hosts Interfaith Caregivers of
South Lee County, a United Way agency,
located on the south side of
and River Ranch
Thursday, January 18th
Southwest Florida Expressway Authority Meeting to hear reports
on adding four lanes to I-75
located on the south side of
and River Ranch
Council of Community Leaders Monthly Meeting…Open to the
Public…for the full agenda see the ECCL section of the
located on the south side of
and River Ranch
Saturday, January 20th
Concert by the Southwest Florida
located on the south side of
and River Ranch
Wednesday, January 24th
Examiner hearing on the Midtowne Estero West zoning application.
This 48 acre development is located on the south side of Corkscrew Road between Three Oaks and River Ranch Road
Hearing Room, LeeCountyCommunityDevelopment
1500 Monroe Street
in downtown Fort Myers
Cultural Arts Council Meeting. The public is invited to attend.
located on the south side of
midway between Sandy Lane
and River Ranch
As a result of the 2004 and 2005 Hurricane seasons all Florida property
owners, especially those with homes or businesses near the Gulf, have and
will continue to experience exceptionally large property and casualty
insurance rate increases (that is when they can get insurance) whether or
not they have filed any claims. In response to this crisis Governor Bush
last summer appointed a Governor’s Property and Casualty Insurance Reform
Committee. In late November the Committee issued its 100 page report. See
this Report and much more at
Governor-elect Christ and the newly elected leaders of the Florida House
and Senate scheduled a special legislative session beginning on January 16th
“to begin an effort to restructure Florida’s property insurance market and
provide relief to Florida residents and businesses.”
To make sure that our problems are addressed and our voice is heard, the
ECCL formed a Property and Casualty Insurance Task Force and asked one of
our residents, Scotty Wood, who was an insurance underwriter with the Chubb
Group of Insurance Companies and an insurance broker with the Marsh &
McLennan Companies and Arthur J. Gallagher, & Company, Inc….some of the
largest insurance service firms in the country, to Chair the Task Force,
review the report and develop some recommendations that the ECCL could
support. During his career, Scotty underwrote property insurance on risks in
many parts of the country, including Florida.
Scotty reviewed the Governor’s Insurance Reform Committee report and met
with the ECCL Insurance Reform Task Force on December 8th and presented his
suggestions after hearing the concerns of a wide variety of Estero’s
residents. Luke Kosar, Senator Aronberg’s assistant, also briefed the Task
Force and about 50 Estero residents about the plans for the special session.
On December 18th Scotty Wood presented the attached testimony (http://www.esterofl.org/eccl/library/Wood%20Testimony%20to%20Lee%20County%20Legislative%20Session%20doc%2012-18-06.doc
) to the Lee County Legislative Delegation at their 2007 Legislative Issues
forum in Ft Myers. The Legislators picked up on Scotty’s statement that the
Reform Committee’s recommendations were good but would not have much
immediate impact…thus his testimony focused upon actions that would have
more immediate impact. Upon their request they were provided copies of the
testimony for review prior to the Special Session.
The Time for Action is Now
If you are having property and casualty insurance problems as a result of
the 2004-05 Hurricane seasons, please contact the state decision-makers
listed below with a message based upon the sample that follows the listing
and instructions…please feel free to modify the email in any way you want.
It is not so important what you say as that you inform these decision-makers
about your problems…numbers count…your experience and your voice needs to be
Insert a paragraph describing the condition and age of your property, your
experience with insurance on your Florida property since 2004 when the first of
the eight hurricanes hit the state. Be sure and discuss what has happened in
terms of your access to insurance; how much your premiums have increased; how
long you have been with your insurer, or former insurer; what claims you have
had, if any.
You and your colleagues must address the Florida insurance crisis quickly with
only one goal in mind…protecting property owners, both residential and business,
so that we can all obtain good insurance coverage at reasonable rates. If you
don’t do this, and respond only to what the insurance industry wants you to do,
Florida’s real estate market and economy will likely enter a recession, our
property values will decline, the flow of new residents will fall and we will
all be trapped in homes we cannot sell and can no longer afford.
We urge you to support the Property and Casualty Insurance Reform Committee’s
recommendations and augment them with others like the following that will have
more immediate impact:
Identify and provide incentives to insurers to encourage them to enter the
Florida property insurance marketplace or increase present commitments,
Conversely, identity and development of disincentives to insurers who curtail
business or attempt to exit a line of business,
Amend the Condominium Act so that all of these units are treated as residential,
not commercial, property when sold by the developer,
Permit responsible, self-funding by condominium associations when they have
reserved for the peril,
Amend the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (FHCF) to enable self-funded
associations to purchase reinsurance from the fund at attachment points way
below present fund attachment points. Increase funding for the FHCF to reflect
the increased risk that it will assume.
Require the insurance industry to offer policies with higher deductibles,
reduced coverages and other risk reduction measures along with actuarially sound
premium credits for these measures, thereby giving residents an opportunity to
select how much insurance the wish to purchase.
Require strict enforcement of building codes by local governments along with
severe penalties and perhaps criminal prosecution for failure to enforce them.
Require insurers to provide actuarially sound credits for building code
amendments that reduce insured risk in their underwriting and rate making.
We hope you are up to the challenge. Good luck as you face this momentous
On June 18, 2004 Bill
Moore and Kathy Babcock of the Lee County School District reported to the Estero
Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) that the School District had completed
preliminary plans that include a five acre site for a
on the 73 acre site that they recently purchased along the east side of Three
Oaks Parkway just north of the Three Oaks Banquet Hall. They indicated that the
School District would hold 5 acres of land along Three Oaks Parkway for a post
office if environmental studies indicate that there is enough usable land for a
general high school, an elementary school and the post office on the site. These
studies were expected to take two years to complete.
On December 15th the USPS notified Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah that they
have selected the Lee County School District site for the new Estero Post
office. According to the News Press report the new Post Office will contain
4,000 square feet and Postal Service carriers will also continue to use the
existing postal facility on Broadway.
The public has 30 days from the time Commissioner Judah was notified, or January
15, to comment on the USPS proposal. Comments should be directed to:
Mr. Kenny Griffin
Vice President, Facilities
USPS Facilities Service Office
1735 North Brown Road, Suite 200
Lawrenceville, GA 30043-8153
The service is required to respond to those comments within 15 days.
It is expected that the Post Office will be completed about two years from now.
Meanwhile the residents of Belle Lago,
Osprey Cove and
The Reserve of
Estero were notified in July that their zip codes would be changed from 33912 to
33967 sometime between then and July 2007. All of these communities are part of
the Estero Community Planning Area but have been served by the Fort Myers Post
Office because of the limited capacity of the Estero Post Office, located little
more than a mile from their homes. Many of the residents of these communities
have expressed a desire to be served by the new Estero Post Office. If that were
to occur they would have to change zip codes twice in about two years.
The next joint meeting of the City of Bonita Springs and the eight member
delegation of Estero leaders has been scheduled for Thursday, January 11th at
the City of Bonita Springs City Hall. Since the October 27th meeting some
progress has been made on all three issues of common interest:
The Acquisition of Emergency Medical Care and a Hospital for South Lee County,
The Sandy Lane Extension from Coconut Point to Old 41, and
request of Lee Memorial on December 4th, City Councilman John Joyce and Sam Levy
and Don Eslick of ECCL met with Dr. C. B Rebsamen, Chief Medical Officer and
head of Strategic Planning for Lee Memorial and Mike Riley, Administrator for
the Bonita Community Health Center, to discuss Lee Memorial’s plans for the 30
acres they own in Coconut Point.
Dr. Rebsamen told the group that Lee Memorial did not believe that a hospital
with less than 100 beds could support all the services that they believe a full
service hospital must provide. He further indicated that about one year ago Lee
Memorial had forecast the number of hospital beds that the south Lee County
population would require between then and 2019. That projection indicated that a
100 bed hospital could not be fully supported until 2019 and that the 80% level
of need would not be reached until 2014.
The Bonita and Estero representatives requested an opportunity to review those
detailed projections and to provide some detailed population information and
projections that has been developed by the City and the ECCL. The City’s
recently approved Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) contains estimates for
all past years and updated projections through 2014 and the ECCL also has
estimates for each year since 2000 and is now in the process of updating its
population projections, using University of Florida methodology, through 2011.
Lee Memorial has designated Kevin Newingham as the person our representatives
need to work with on this project. Efforts to set up a meeting with Mr.
Newingham are underway.
The group also discussed the concept of pursuing a
Department (FED) for the site as an interim solution pending establishment of a
hospital. Legislation authorizing the Agency for Health Care Administration
(ACHA) to establish new and less extensive requirements for such facilities was
defeated in the waning days of the 2006 legislative session because of concerns
raised by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers and Fire Rescue
organizations. Lee Memorial indicated that they would not proceed with
construction of a new hospital without agreement with these groups. Thus it is
Councilman Joyce and the Estero representatives’ recommendation that a meeting
be scheduled with all these parties in order to determine what concerns our
local transportation groups have regarding a FED and to see if those concerns
can be overcome before supporting FED legislation in 2007.
Representatives of the two communities also were directed to develop information
and a draft letter that, upon approval by the Bonita Springs City Council and
the ECCL, would be used to solicit all hospitals and hospital systems that might
have an interest in developing a hospital in the area. Some data gathering has
been completed but it is recommended that this mandate be set aside until the
present discussions with Lee Memorial have been completed.
Sandy Lane (in Estero the road is now called Via
The City of
Bonita Springs contracted with Florida Transportation Engineers to advise the
City regarding the following:
Updating the cost of
designing, permitting, acquiring right of way and constructing the segment of
Sandy Lane between Pelican Colony Boulevard and Old 41, just east of US 41.
Update the traffic impact of
the segment on Old 41 to the south of its connection with the Sandy Lane
extension upon the road network in and around E. Terry Street, where the widened
Old 41 will narrow to two lanes.
On December 20th Florida Transportation Engineers reported to the Council that
the estimated cost of this road segment had increased from the 2004 County
estimate of $12,194,000 to between $25,497,127 and $30,282,483. The Engineering
cost is estimated to range from $3,175,736 to $4,442,448 while the Right-of-way
cost is estimated to be $9,130,438.
The cost of the first phase of the project, the design phase, is included in the
engineering costs. If the project is to be started within the next few years
some or all of the design costs need to be included in the County’s 2007-08
Capital Improvement Plan prior to its approval next spring or summer.
Councilman Nelson indicated that several landowners along the route had
expressed interest in the road and might be willing to partner with the County
and City regarding some of the right-of-way costs in order to accelerate the
Coordination of Legislative Lobbying Efforts
Paul Piller, the City of Bonita
Springs’ Tallahassee lobbyist, added the Freestanding Emergency Department
legislation to the 2007 legislative agenda he presented to the City Council on
December 6th. Prior to that time he had consulted with the lobbyist for the
Florida Hospital Association, the organization that had spearheaded the effort
to amend the law earlier this year.
The following seven road segments will greatly improve traffic conditions in
Estero and the surrounding community. They are either under construction or will
be within the next few months. While their construction will create some
congestion during the upcoming season, and to a lesser extent over the next year
or two, they will greatly benefit traffic conditions in Estero in the long run.
The central and the southern segments
of this new four lane roadway between Williams Road and a traffic roundabout
south of Coconut Road and a segment of Pelican Colony Boulevard extending west
over to US 41 are now open and available for use. The northern segment from
Williams to Corkscrew is largely completed with work continuing at its
intersection with Corkscrew Road. This segment will be available for use in
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) plans to award
the contract for widening I-75 to six lanes throughout the 35 mile segment
between Ft. Myers and Naples in February 2007, in two months. The project is set
for completion in late 2010, a three and one half year project. Usually a
project of this scope would be treated as several separate projects, phased
sequentially, taking much more time to complete. The Southwest Florida
Expressway Authority continues to study the possibility of constructing
additional toll lanes in the median during this same time period.
At the end of
December this new four lane road project will be on the 235th day of a 630 day
contract, or 37% of the way to completion, if done on time. As of the 27th of
December the contractor had expended about $15 million of the $28.5 million
included in the contract. At present the contractor has completed the
underground utilities, curbing and sidewalks from East Terry Street to Strike
At the end of
December this new four lane road project was on the 165th day of a 570 day
contract, or 29% of the way to completion, if done on time. As of the 27th of
December the contractor had expended about $2.55 million of the $12.5 million
included in the contract. At present the contractor has completed driving
pilings on the north side of the Imperial River and has begun the process on the
south side of the river; the utilities work on the detention ponds has begun;
Bonita Springs Utilities, Florida Power and Light and Embarq are working on the
project. When this and the prior project are complete Estero residents will be
able to travel all the way to Naples’ Radio Road on this new four lane corridor.
The contract for
this segment was awarded to Posen Construction in October 2006. Posen began
construction in early December. When complete this segment will permit motorists
to travel from Alico Road in Ft Myers to Radio Road in Naples upon a continuous
4 lane highway.
project has been advertised for bids and to the surprise of everyone four firms
that have not been doing business in southwest Florida bid on the project. This
project is being financed by a special district composed of the businesses and
residential communities located along the road segment.
At the December 15th Metropolitan
Planning Organization (MPO) meeting Mike Rippe, FDOT Regional Director, told the
members that discussions were underway with Estero United Methodist Church for
the two acres needed for a detention pond to capture runoff from
Acquiring a pond in this area has prevented the roadway from being “production
ready” for quite a long time. Once the pond site has been acquired FDOT expects
that another 9 months will be required to complete the permitting process. Rippe
estimates that the road would be “production ready” by July 2008, one year later
than their last estimate. This is still 2 years earlier than the state has
currently funded construction of the segment.
Representatives of the Estero Community have met many times with Lee County
staff, and the Developer of Paradise Shops, (Walgreen’s location) since
December, 2005, to address the development’s traffic impact on the western
segment of the
Williams/US 41 intersection. The Lee BOCC approved the Paradise
Shops project in November 2005 with a condition limiting the project’s exit onto
Williams Road to a right turn (West) only, until such time as improvements are
made to the Williams-US41 intersection.
In February 2006, conceptual agreement was reached on the design of the
improvement, whereby the intersection would service eastbound traffic with two
left turn lanes, a through lane and a right turn lane. West Bay Club
Development, which owns the property across (South) from Walgreens, was
committed to donating 15 feet of property to facilitate the improvement. At that
time the developers of Paradise Shops committed $446,000 to make the necessary
Since February 2006, Paradise Shops prepared detailed engineering plans for the
improvement and submitted plans to the County for both the project development
and the related road improvement. Lee County and FDOT requirements, primarily
related to utility location and signalization, respectively, have resulted in
intersection improvements costs that could exceed $800,000, significantly beyond
the developer’s commitment.
Currently, the Community is in active discussion with the Paradise Shops
developer to identify a proposal that will meet the technical requirements of
Lee County and FDOT, satisfy the needs of the Community and the developer, and
identify sources of funding necessary for the improvements to be implemented.
During December Lee Tran created two routes
that terminate in the Coconut Point
Town Center. Route 150 serves Estero and the Coconut Point Town Center from the
south along both US 41 and Old 41. Route 140 serves Estero and Coconut Point
from North Fort Myers, Fort Myers and all points north along US 41. The terminal
point in the Coconut Point Town Center is located along the Coconut Point
entrance adjacent to the Best Buy store.
On December 15th John Wilson, Lee County Public Safety Director, and Joan
LaGuardia, Communications Director of the County’s Community Development
Department, briefed the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) on the
recently released Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood control maps.
FEMA is conducting the first comprehensive review of flood zones throughout Lee
County in 22 years. FEMA has made the updated, digital flood hazard maps
available for public review, and Lee County has set them up on the following web
http://www.lee-county.com/dcd/fema.htm so you can see them and learn more
about FEMA’s flood mapping program.
These preliminary maps show that more areas of Lee County will be included in
high-risk flood zones, especially along the coast, rivers and creeks. Within
high-risk flood zones, known as Special Flood Hazard Areas, insurance rates and
construction elevation requirements are higher than in other area. In Estero
the areas along the Estero River and its tributaries, Halfway Creek and Spring
Creek had never been mapped before, thus much more of Estero will be included in
high risk flood zones.
Communities in these areas should stay in touch with County staff as they will
be reviewing the basis for these designations prior to Board of County
Commissioners consideration of the maps. Once local governments have adopted the
maps, resulting changes in flood insurance rates and elevation requirements for
construction will go into effect. That will likely be around August 2007.
Communities can appeal the maps even after they have been adopted by obtaining a
survey of the property in question and filing a letter of Map Amendment with
On November 21st the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the County
Manager’s recommendation to hire McLane Environmental to review all the existing
studies of the DRGR and prepare a summary that the BOCC can use to develop
amended land use policies for that 150 square mile area. After hearing public
testimony on the issue and considerable discussion the Commissioner’s voted 4 to
1 to approve the contract with the understanding that the consultants would:
consider all the studies that
have been brought to the County’s attention, and
prepare a report that would
include overlay maps that will show the geographic implications of the most
valid science on each of the factors affecting the DRGR, e.g. water supply and
quality; flow-ways; flooding; wetlands; habitat; mining; agriculture; existing
On December 15th Joan LaGuardia of the County Community Planning Department
indicated that the McLane study would note the gaps in the information necessary
to fully understand the environmental and water resource aspects of the DRGR and
contain overlay maps depicting the location of all these resources. The report
is expected to become available for public and Commission review in May 2007.
On January 12th at 10 a.m. the ECCL Environmental Committee and County
Commissioner Ray Judah will meet with Charles Pattison, Executive of “1000
Friends of Florida”, Florida’s growth management “watchdog” to discuss with us
how best to plan for the use of the DRGR. This meeting is open to the public.
“1000 Friends” mission is as follows: “promotes healthy urban and natural places
by wise management of growth and change. We educate, advocate, negotiate and,
when necessary, litigate to protect our high quality of life. We help citizens
have the technical knowledge and access needed to ensure that public and private
decisions lead to livable communities. Our planners, attorneys and community
activists work to protect natural areas, fight urban sprawl, promote sensible
development patterns, and provide affordable housing. Above all, we strive to
give citizens the tools to keep Florida's communities livable.” For further
information about “1000 Friends of Florida” see
The Estero Historical Society has just put in a request for a grant to pay for
the services of Linda Stevenson, a Historic Architect, currently working on
restoration work at the Koreshan State Park in Estero. She and her
associates will be able to piggy back the Historical Society’s work to restore
two Estero historic homes along with her work at the Park.
The application was submitted in December, 2006. The Society’s request
will be reviewed by the Lee County Historic Preservation Board in January, 2007,
and, if approved, will be considered by the County Commissioners in February,
The BOCC must give the Society final approval in order for them to move the two
historic houses from their present locations on Highland Avenue in “Old Estero”
to the Estero Community Park. The homes and the cost of transporting them to the
Park are being contributed by the College of Life Foundation.
The following table shows how the first eleven months of 2006 compares with the
same period during the prior six years:
Value Per Unit
Single Family Units
As the above table shows, less housing units were permitted in Estero
during the first eleven months of 2006 than in the same period in any
year since 2000. In spite of this decline, the average building value,
excluding the land beneath it, was far higher than in any prior year and
almost double the average price in 2000, in spite of having the smallest
percentage (39.2%) of single family homes. As a consequence 2006 still
has produced the second highest increase in total residential building
The value of commercial buildings permitted in Estero during the first
eleven months of 2006 totaled $177 million. The next highest commercial
permit total for that period, $75 million, was in 2000, when the Hyatt
Coconut Point Resort was permitted.
The major projects that contributed to the 2006 total are: