City of Palms Post- December 2016
New Hotel to come to Downtown

Downtown Hotel on the Horizon

On December 12, the City Council approved the final details for the NEW riverfront hotel coming to the City of Fort Myers.
Mainsail developer Joe Collier shared that latest information about how the Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott will uniquely reflect Fort Myers’ “sense of place,” incorporating the City’s history and outlook for the future. The hotel will have an estimated 230 rooms, and will encompass the convention center, a riverfront amphitheater, and a 220 space parking garage framed by restaurants and retail shops. Upscale dining and creative culinary options will be open to the public.
Groundbreaking is expected to take place between April to July 2017.
Watch for more details soon!

Train Depot is Future Tech Hub

Regional Technology Hub Coming to Midtown

The City’s Midtown neighborhood is going high-tech as plans take shape for transforming the historic railroad depot on Jackson St. into a regional technology hub.
During a special meeting on Dec. 12, the City Council voted to approve a 40-year lease with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, a $1 million funding agreement for improvements to the depot and a $2.5 million public improvement agreement for streetscaping and utility upgrades.
The Community Foundation will use the renovated depot as their new corporate office, and a new addition will house the technology center.

Chief Diggs engages with the community

“We are in this together”

Fort Myers Police Department reaches out for Community Engagement

On Nov. 29, Chief Derrick Diggs and the City of Fort Myers Police hosted a meeting at Harborside Event Center to garner interest in creating a community engagement task force. It was one of the Chief's several community engagement events around the city.
The two-hour meeting encouraged an open “real talk” conversation designed to begin a holistic process of creating a safe, effective and flourishing community by sharing knowledge, insights and best practices to the City of Fort Myers Police Department.
Incorporating local data and proven models of restorative justice, the task force strives to promote equity, accessibility, and culturally-sensitive sustainable change to ensure that all Fort Myers citizens can enjoy a safe community, successful lives, and meaningful relationships with law enforcement officers.

Fire Station One Ribboncutting

New Fire Station 1 Celebrates Opening with Traditional Hose Uncoupling

December 5 was an historic day as the City celebrated the grand opening of a 30,700-square-foot new fire station located near Jackson Street and MLK Jr. Blvd. Hundreds of guests experienced the traditional “hose uncoupling,” toured the new state-of-the-art facility and took part in the flag raising that officially opened the new fire house.
The City’s Department of Public Works collaborated with the Fire Department to create a facility that accomplishes their mutual goals for public safety and community services. The space allows for the present day’s larger fire apparatus, equipment and technology needed to accommodate the department’s expanded operational responsibilities.

1926 Fire Truck

Classic Fire Truck on Permanent Loan to Fire Station 1

Grand opening day at the fire station was highlighted by a presentation from George T. “Pat” Mann, who “returned” a 1926 fire truck back to the station. The historic vehicle was given to Mosquito Control many decades ago, and has now found its home with the fire department once again. Still fully operational, the department will use the truck in parades and for other ceremonial events.

Commercial Kitchen

Commercial Kitchen to come to SWFL Enterprise Center

How can one business curb violence, increase small business development, provide much needed jobs to the underprivileged, educate the public to eat healthy, provide hope for convicts, support local urban gardens and compliment local restaurants?  The SWFL Enterprise Center Commercial Kitchen plans accomplish these goals and more!
The SWFL Enterprise Center’s proposed commercial kitchen will be a unique 4,800 square foot facility that will combine culinary arts with education, job creation and a healthy food initiative that will stimulate small business growth and capitalize on a growth market.  It will incorporate a multi-media space for culinary education, and will also include a Commercial Bakery component which will adopt a re-entry program for the recently incarcerated.  It will also provide services to help reduce generational poverty by allowing low-to-moderate income individuals to either supplement their incomes, become economically self-sufficient, or to grow an already-existing small food business.
You can learn more about the commercial kitchen and even donate to the cause at the SWFL Enterprise Center Foundation website at: , or contact Mike Love: 239-321-7085 or .

McCollum Hall

McCollum Hall Milestone

The City achieved another milestone in 2016: the exterior renovation of Fort Myers’ McCollum Hall, located at Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Cranford Ave., originally built in 1938.  The renowned “dance hall” once featured nationally famous performers like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and B.B. King.
With the restoration, McCollum Hall is on its way to becoming a busy hub of the community once again. Plans for the interior renewal are underway, and we look forward to seeing these plans come to fruition. For the City, that means new opportunities for employment, and a catalyst for new business in the area.

Passport Parking app now at Harborside

Your Passport to Easier Parking Comes to Harborside

As of Jan. 1, paying for parking at the Harborside parking lot in the City of Fort Myers will be faster and more convenient. The Passport Parking app allows drivers to pay by credit via a smart phone instead of negotiating the kiosk pay stations.
The City’s public works department will remove the kiosks by the end of the year, and the Passport Parking app will go into effect. Notices will be issued during the first two weeks of January to help educate the public and to give people adequate time to adjust to the change. Communications will be distributed that will explain how to download and use the app.

Centennial Park Christmas Tree

Thanks to Parks & Beautification for Decorating for the Holiday Season

Since November, staff members have been busy helping several community service groups and the City get ready for the holidays.
You can see their influence all over the city, including the holiday lights at the Burroughs Home and the Langford Kingston Home, the 35' Christmas tree at Centennial Park, holiday decorations at City Hall and the Council Chambers, Roberto Clemente Park’s 37' Christmas tree and 38 roadway palms, and the decorations on “The Spirit of Fort Myers” in front of Edison Park.
Thanks also to the many community service groups they worked with—coming together to create a beautiful city!

The Heart of Christmas at Clemente Park

The Heart of Christmas in Clemente Park

Parks & Beautification also helped with the new “Heart of Christmas” interactive sculpture that debuted at Roberto Clemente Park during the “Holidays in the Park” celebration.  “The Heart of Christmas,” or Coeur de Noel, was purchased by the Community Redevelopment Agency, City of Fort Myers Mayor and City Council neighborhood discretionary funds. The sculpture lights up Clemente Park, and replaces the holiday pole lights that were hung along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. for more than ten years. 
Hundreds lined up to take photos inside the sculpture on its first night—you can visit it in Clemente Park through the holidays!

Curtains Up on FREE Movies in the Park

Our Recreation Division is pleased to present this season’s series of FREE Movies in the Park! Bring your lawn chairs or blankets, enjoy family activities up to one hour before “show time.” Onsite parking is free and concessions only $1. Please note that children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 239.321.7530.

Remember the Titans

Remember the Titans

February 11, 2017
Clemente Park
7:30 p.m.

The Secret Life of Pets

March 25, 2017
Centennial Park
8 p.m.

Finding Dory

April 28, 2017
Centennial Park
8 p.m.

Secret Life of Pets

Employees of the Quarter

Congratulations to the City's Employees of the Quarter

For third quarter 2016, the City celebrates the following staff members for their dedication and excellent performance:

Beth Stark, Community Development
Kathy Hoffmann, Police Department
Yunel Perez-Mazola, Fire Department

Congratulations and thank you for setting a great example!

Beth Stark on TPIR (Courtesy News-Press)

The Price is Right Winner and Employee of the Quarter!

Beth Stark has experienced an incredible couple of months!  During a September vacation, Beth convinced friends to attend the taping of The Price Is Right, something she has always dreamed of—and she was called to “come on down!”  After some ups and downs, Beth placed her bid on the 2nd Showcase and won two iPhones, and trips to Greece and Thailand! She is still floating on cloud nine today! (Photo courtesy of the News-Press)

Building under construction

Why Do I Need Permits?

The tragedy of the Oakland, California fire in the “Ghost Ship” warehouse that claimed 36 young adult lives, brings to light the importance of building code enforcement.  The Building Division of the City of Fort Myers Community Development Department oversees the permitting, plan review, and inspections processes for every type of construction project and improvement.  Permits are required for all construction projects with a job value of $500 or greater.
Building codes exist to protect us from unscrupulous contractors who cut corners and unlicensed tradesmen. They also shield us from well-intentioned do-it-yourselfers who find themselves in over their heads. Getting a permit means that licensed Plans
Examiners will review construction plans and spot mistakes before work begins. Once work is underway, inspectors ensure that all work meets the Code and any errors are corrected before a job is completed.
Mandatory inspections act as a system of checks and balances that help create safer projects.
In the end, following regulated procedures for new construction and renovations helps avoid potential tragedies such as the Oakland fire.  For further information on permits, contact the Building Division of the Community Development Department at 239-321-7925.

City Artists

Special Reception Recognizes Fort Myers Artists

A reception and exhibition hosted by the Public Art Committee took place at Harborside Event Center on Dec. 2 to recognize City of Fort Myers’ emerging and established artists who received grants from the City.
Each year, Fort Myers City Council appropriates funds for Art and Culture Grants.  The grants are administered by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. Grant criteria include artistic merit, community outreach, and art-related educational value for Fort Myers residents. The City of Fort Myers Individual Artist Grant Exhibition included the artwork of past grant recipients: Linda Benson, Katherine Boren, Pat Collins, Mark Cranford, Scott Guelcher, David Hatchett, Lily Hatchett, Leo Johnson, Krista Johnson, Jade Leutenberg, Jeff Scott Lewis, David Meo, Tony “Chainsaw” Myles, Tim Smith, and Rose Young. Performance artists included Kat Epple, Gregory Van Kirk, and Warren Van Kirk.

New Grant Cycle Now Open!

The 2016 Arts & Culture Grant cycle is open through Friday, January 13th!
Info for artists:
Info for organizations:

Heart Walk 2016

City Employees Walk for Heart Health

For the 5th year in a row, the City of Fort Myers participated in the Lee County Heart Walk, sponsored by the American Heart Association.  The City received a total of 49 registrations/donations for the event and 38 employees and family members joined the nearly 6,000 who walked.  An early morning chill warmed to a beautiful temperature for walking the 5 miles from Centennial Park across the Edison Bridge and back.
We are proud to say the City of Fort Myers won the Heart Walk t-shirt contest, which honors the most creative team shirt!
Although the final tally is not yet in, the City raised more than $1,000 for the fight against cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  Donations are still being accepted through the end of the year.  In appreciation for a donation of $10 or more, donors will receive a winning City team t-shirt!  To donate, contact Terry Pohlman in the Community Development Department at 239-321-7905.

Robert Gardner Retires

Community Development Department Director Retires

Robert Gardner, the City of Fort Myers Community Development Department Director since 2008, retired from the City on November 18.  Bob and his wife Ann Pierce own a home in Fort Myers, and it is unclear if Bob will truly retire.  Being one to not sit still for long, we have a feeling he will continue working somewhere!  Either way, the City wishes him well in all his future endeavors.  Thank you, Bob, for your service to the Fort Myers community.

Christmas Tree lights

Take Care during the Holidays!

Safety Tips from the Fort Myers Fire Department

Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious. Follow these tips for a safe holiday season:

Selecting your tree

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.
Placing the tree
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand daily.
Lighting the tree
  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of light strands to connect. 
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
After Christmas
  • Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Check with your local community to find a recycling program.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

Holiday Cooking Safety

Cooking is often a relaxing and fun task that brings family and friends together, and it provides a great way to showcase your creativity and love of good food. But cooking is also the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. 
Be sure to:
  • Keep an eye on what you fry
  • Be alert when cooking
  • keep things that can catch fire away from cooking area

Mayor Henderson with Santa Claus

Holiday Happenings in the City

Edison & Ford Holiday Nights The 41st annual holiday celebration at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. The winter homes, gardens and historic buildings of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are decorated with thousands of lights and decorations. New this year: A nightly Waltzing Waters lighted water fountain display. Open through Jan. 1, 2017. Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours are 5:30 to 9 p.m. daily. Admission is $20 ($10 for ages 13-19, $2 for ages 6-12, free for younger). Edison & Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. 334-7419 or
Holiday House The holiday tradition celebrates its 60th anniversary with the theme “Let Heaven and Nature Sing.” Enjoy holiday treats and live entertainment, visit Santa Claus and tour the lavishly decorated, historic Burroughs and Langford Kingston homes. 5-9 p.m. nightly through Dec. 23. $5 admission. Free for ages 10 and younger, plus military and veterans with ID. Organized by the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club. Burroughs Home, 2505 First St., downtown Fort Myers. 739-4462 or
Dec. 24: Rotary Holidays Without Hunger Join more than 2,000 volunteers on Christmas Eve and help pack a half million meals for Southwest Florida residents in need. Enjoy festive and contemporary music and try your luck with a raffle for prize giveaways. Bond with your friends and neighbors while helping your community in a festive environment. 7 p.m. Free. Harborside Event Center, 1375 Monroe St., downtown Fort Myers.

on behalf of Mayor Henderson, the Fort Myers City Council, City Manager and
the staff of the City of Fort Myers!

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