Lee County Legislative Delegation approves bill for an Estero incorporation referendum
On December 3, 2013, the Lee County Legislative Delegation approved Rep. Ray Rodrigues’ local bill for an Estero incorporation referendum on the November 4, 2014, ballot.
Estero Council of Community Leaders’ (ECCL) Chairman Nick Batos and Vice Chairman John Goodrich presented the Delegation with petitions signed by 10,238 Estero residents indicating their wish to have an incorporation referendum on the ballot next year.
The ECCL initiated the incorporation effort following a special meeting in July 12, 2013, where the membership voted in favor of going forward with this effort. Burt Saunders, Gray/Robinson Law Firm, was hired to prepare the Estero charter and Joe Mazurkiewicz, President, BJM Consulting, performed the feasibility study.
Thirty-three community meetings were completed and two Town Hall meetings, hosted by Rep. Rodrigues, were attended by over 3,000 Estero residents combined, all indicating support for a referendum.
The ECCL will now proceed with Phase II community workshops. These workshops will provide Estero residents with more detailed information about the incorporation process so that they may make an informed choice on November 4, 2014.
November Town Hall Meeting
Hundreds of Estero residents attended the second Incorporation Referendum Town Hall meeting hosted by State Rep. Ray Rodrigues on Tuesday, November 12.
State Senator Garrett Richter and Rep. Kathleen Passidomo also participated in the meeting.
When Rep. Rodrigues asked how many people want to place Estero incorporation on the November 2014 ballot, all hands went up. When asked how many people didn’t support it, no hands were raised.
Sen. Richter commented that this issue has created “the greatest community involvement of any issues since I’ve been in an elected office.”
State Senator Garrett Richter, Reps. Kathleen Passidomo and Ray Rodrigues respond to questions at the November 12, 2013, Town Hall meeting.
November ECCL Meeting
ECCL Chairman Nick Batos welcomes Nicole Johnson, Conservancy of
Southwest Florida's Director of Environmental Relations, to the November
Chamber Presents Check to ECCL
Estero Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Gene Montenieri, (right) presented ECCL Chairman Nick Batos (left) with a check for the incorporation referendum effort at the November 8, 2013, monthly ECCL meeting. The Chamber donated their revenue from the Taste of Coconut Point event, and then matched those funds, for a total of $4,144 to be used to protect Estero’s boundaries.
Estero to Study Future Development in Commercial Corridors
On November 6, nationally known consultants Seth Harry and Associates, Inc., and Peloton Research Partners met with Estero community leaders and the owners of vacant properties in Estero’s commercial corridors to discuss the consultants’ recently completed market assessment and how it can be used to plan for the future development of Estero.
The study was initiated to help the Estero community, its committees and property owners understand how the regional and local residential and commercial real estate markets have changed during the recession and will impact the development of the community over the next 10 to 20 years.
The study identifies three areas of opportunity where the community, major institutions and the landowners should consider working together to achieve community and developer goals.
The Town Center area, located around the intersection of US41 and Corkscrew Road including the Estero Community Park and the Koreshan State Park and buttressed by the New Hertz Corporation Headquarters on its southern edge,
A Medical Village surrounding the Lee Memorial Hospital site which is located just south of the Coconut Point Town Center, and
A University Village consisting of a number of vacant and partially vacant developments close to rapidly growing Florida Gulf Coast University.
A Steering Committee, representing Estero’s major community organizations, reached out to the owners of all of the large vacant properties to invite them to participate in the November 6 Workshop and to assure them that the community is seeking to form a partnership with them that will enhance the value of their property, speed up the development process and maintain Estero’s high standards.
This proactive planning effort will build upon the major investment projects that will be underway by year end in Estero, including Hertz’s International Headquarters, a new Wal-Mart at US 41 and Estero Parkway and a Family Health Center, now under construction next to The Vines community.
Town Hall Meeting - Oct. 28, 2013
Hundreds of Estero residents stood in line to attend the Incorporation
Referendum Town Hall meeting hosted by State Rep. Ray Rodrigues on October
State Senators Lizbeth Benacquisto and Garrett Richter, and Rep. Kathleen
Passidomo also participated in the event.
When the standing room only crowd was asked, “How many of you here want the
right to vote for incorporation?” all but four hands went up.
The crowd was estimated to be over 400 people, with many having to be
turned away due to the size of the meeting room.
A second Town Hall meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12. Rep.
Rodrigues is considering an alternate site, allowing more residents to
Lee Memorial Health Systems' Director of Government and Community Relations Sally Jackson (left) and Director of Special Projects Suzanne Bradach (right) are greeted by ECCL Chairman Nick Batos at the October membership meeting.
The ECCL held the first of two “Captains Meetings” on Sept. 11, 2013. The “Captains” are volunteers from various Estero communities who will be making sure the residents in each of their communities are aware of the various aspects of the Estero Incorporation issue.
John Goodrich, ECCL Vice-Chair and Government Relations Director, gave a power point presentation to the 40-plus Captains and members of their teams. The presentation addressed the reasons for Estero’s actions, advantages of incorporating, getting to a public vote in November 2014, and how communities and residents can help.
Lynda Thompson, Lee County Conservation Lands Program Coordinator, and Noel Andress, Chairman of the Conservation 20/20 Blue Ribbon Committee, spoke at the May ECCL membership meeting describing the value of the 20/20 program.
On Tuesday, May 28, the Board of County Commissioners will be voting on the Blue Ribbon Committee’s 16 specific recommendations to improve the program (see power point). Andress asked that everyone attend and support the recommendations. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. in the Commission Chambers, Old Court House, 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers.
Thank you for your support for the Lee Memorial south Lee Count y Hospital application to the State Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). The 2,200 letters and 60 supporters who took the time to travel to Ft. Myers to testify in support of the proposal shattered all records for community support of a hospital application.
As you probably know Naples Community Healthcare (NCH) has filed an objection to the Lee Memorial application. Under AHCA’s procedure Lee Memorial has 10 days to respond to NCH’s objections. Lee Memorial informs us that they are working on their response and expect it to be filed on AHCA’s schedule.
Under AHCA’s rules only Lee Memorial can submit a response to the NCH challenge. The time for public input to AHCA’s is over.
AHCA has only about 30 days, by June 7th, after receiving Lee Memorial’s rebuttal to make a decision.
The South Lee County Hospital Committee believes that Lee Memorial filed an outstanding application with AHCA. The Committee supports the Lee Memorial application because they want to help the people of South Lee County gain timely access to emergency and acute care.
We are confident that Lee Memorial’s response to the NCH challenge will also be excellent.
Some of the key points made by the Lee Memorial application:
The 80 beds are not additional beds, they are existing beds being transferred from Lee Memorial’s downtown Ft. Myers hospital,
The current population, exclusive of “snowbirds”, of the south Lee County service area is 180,000, and it is growing rapidly,
Compared to other areas of the county, state and country a much higher percentage of this population is 65 years and older, a group that consumes hospital services at a much higher rate than younger people,
The elderly population of the service area is growing much faster than the overall population of the area, over 20% during the next 5 years alone,
This population consists of residents who have much higher incomes and better insurance coverage than most other areas thus helping the hospital to be financially successful,
The nearest hospital is 12 miles from the Lee Memorial hospital site that they have owned for nearly a decade,
Depending on traffic conditions Bonita Springs and Estero residents can expect it to take up to an hour to reach the nearest hospital.
Most of the testimony at the AHCA Hearing related the troubling experiences that many of our residents have had in accessing emergency medical care and how a hospital in south Lee County could eliminate those experiences and the apprehension they produce.
Thanks again for your help.
The South Lee County Hospital Committee
ECCL Chairman Nick Batos greets Suzanne Bradach, Director of Special Projects, Lee Memorial Health System. She was the guest speaker at the April 12, 2013, membership meeting. See the April Executive Summary for her comments.