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Civic association to return meetings to rec center

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Nov 18, 2020

news@breezenewspapers.com

The North Fort Myers Civic Association held its last meeting at the Chamber of Commerce welcome center at the Shell Factory last week.

The organization will return to the North Fort Myers Recreation Center in time for its Dec. 8 meeting, although there will be some conditions in effect.

The civic association will have to rent two rooms as opposed to the one partitioned room they used in the past, to allow for social distancing.

The board of directors and attendees will have seats six feet apart, and masks will be required. Hand sanitizer will be made available.

This will double the cost of using the rec center, to $40 for two hours, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., which the civic association voted to pay for.

Last month, it was thought the civic association would return in January, but the decision to reopen the rec center earlier prompted the group to act fast to get the room it wanted, provided could present the county with a plan to combat the spread of COVID-19, which it did.

The arrangement will last until the end of next year. The cost is $520, minus a $60 credit, which has to be paid upfront.

Vice president Danny Ballard said the organization would get a credit if renting two rooms would no longer be necessary.

In other business, Ballard announced that the Hearing Examiner approved the Paradise Isle development, with some conditions.

The plan will go before the Lee County Board of County Commissioners sometime in December, though the date has not been confirmed. Only those who spoke at the Hearing Examiner’s meeting will be allowed to speak before the BOCC. Nobody is allowed to speak with a commissioner about the plan, as it is against protocol.

Ballard said in discussions with the owners of the property he learned that permits would probably not be issued until April and that the turning of dirt could start sometime in June. Ballard cautioned that federal agencies, the state and South Florida Water Management each work on their own timeframe.

The civic association also reviewed the happenings at the BOCC’s workshop regarding the homelessness on Oct. 20, which did not lead to any immediate action.

President Doug Dailey said there are many services available to those who are homeless, and that there is shelter, food, clothing and, for those who panhandle, money.

Board member Laura Lewis said there has been one aspect that has been forgotten, which is mental illness.

“We don’t have the facilities for mental illness or addiction that are needed. My husband is a deputy sheriff in Hillsborough County and he deals with it every day. Until we get those resources, it’s going to be a snowball effect,” Lewis said. “They’re on drugs because they’re self-medicating and it’s a form of mental illness.”

John Gardner, president of the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, said the problem is that there are many who should be arrested, but that Sheriff Carmine Marceno refuses to enforce the law.

Ballard said in Clearwater, there is a law where if you give money to a panhandler, they don’t fine the panhandler, but the person giving them money gets a ticket.