City of Palms Post: News from the City of Fort Myers

October 2018

City of Fort Myers at Caloosahatchee River

WalletHub names Fort Myers as Fastest Growing City


Fort Myers is 2018’s fastest-growing city, according to the personal finance website WalletHub. Fort Myers was at the top of the nationwide ranking, with only two other Florida cities breaking into the top 20.

To determine where the most rapid local economic growth occurred over a period of seven years, WalletHub compared 515 U.S. cities across 15 key metrics. The data set ranges from population growth to college-educated population growth to unemployment rate decrease. Fort Myers ranks first overall and first in terms of small-city growth. The ranking pertains to city proper, excluding cities in the surrounding metro area.

The full list and more information is available at https://wallethub.com/edu/fastest-growing-cities/7010/#city. Data used to create the ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Venture Capital Association and Renwood RealtyTrac.

Ward 6 neighborhood cleanup

Linear Park the focus of Ward 6 Neighborhood Cleanup 


As an ongoing effort of the Safe and Clean Task Force, the City of Fort Myers, community volunteers and citizens of Ward 6 participated in a Neighborhood Cleanup on Friday, September 14 from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Linear Bike Path. City of Fort Myers employees and community volunteers picked up junk, trash, debris and litter in addition to cutting grass and trimming overgrowth.

The Ward 6 Neighborhood Cleanup was coordinated by the City of Fort Myers Safe and Clean Task Force (members include Public Works, Parks, Stormwater and Solid Waste; Fort Myers Police Department; Fort Myers Fire Department; Community Development, Code Enforcement Field Supervisor and Zone Code Officers) and citizen volunteers.


City announces temporary reduction in building permit fees


The Fort Myers City Council recently voted to cut building permit fees by 50 percent for one year beginning on October 1. In addition to the building permit fee reduction, a comprehensive fee study conducted by MGT Consulting Group recommended adjusting other building and development fees to align with annual costs. The results of the study were presented in a special workshop on August 13, and suggested future modifications to the city’s planning, engineering and fire inspection fees.

Citizens can track development activity through the city’s development map updated weekly at https://bit.ly/2yWvVYH.


FMFD receives firefighter decontamination kits


In an effort to combat the risk of firefighter carcinogen exposure from potentially contaminated gear, the Fort Myers Fire Department applied for and received specialized decontamination kits from the state fire marshal’s office. More than 400 fire department across Florida are receiving the kits, which contain detergents, scrub brushed, spray bottles and garden hoses to be used by firefighters prior to returning to the station. The kits enhance a previously established protocol being followed by FMFD personnel to clean and maintain gear to the highest possible standard.

Studies have shown that inhalation or absorption of carcinogens is how firefighters are most likely exposed to cancer risk, and the cancer rate among firefighters is 15 percent higher than the general population. “Anything we can do to reduce risks and support a culture of prevention is worthwhile,” said FMFD Chief John Caufield.


City Council approves FY2019 budget and votes to reduce millage rate to 8.45


The Fort Myers City Council has approved a $397.2 million fiscal year 2019 budget and lowered the millage rate to 8.45, a reduction from the fiscal year 2018 rate of 8.65.

The newly approved budget adds $7.3 million towards Public Safety Departments including 14 police officer positions and full year funding of 15 officer and two sergeant positions to fill the positions of officers placed in schools. Also included in that amount is funding for the Police Officer Housing Assistance Program; police equipment, technology, community outreach, training and operating supplies; fire training equipment, specialized gear and contractual fire inspection services; and wage adjustments for Police and Fire Union employees.

$904,600 will go towards funding the reorganization of the city’s legal department and includes five additional positions and one previously frozen position. Two separate reporting structures have been created: the City Attorney’s Office will report to city council and handle litigation matters, and the Administration Attorney’s Office will report to the city manager and handle matters pertaining to land use, police and personnel, among others.
 
There will be no rate increases for water and sewer services; assessments for fire and residential solid waste remain unchanged. The city’s reserves are estimated at $15.3 million, or 12.8 percent of the total budget. The reserve amount does not reflect any reimbursement from FEMA for Hurricane Irma expenditures, which is expected to be at least $8.5 million. The general fund has paid nearly $10 million to cover Hurricane Irma expenditures.


Water reuse agreement reached between Fort Myers and Cape Coral


The City of Fort Myers has reached an agreement with the City of Cape Coral to provide reclaimed water produced by Fort Myers to Cape Coral. The agreement is a win-win for both cities as Cape Coral will receive much-needed reclaimed water for irrigation use during the dry season, and Fort Myers can reduce FDEP-permitted treated water discharges to the Caloosahatchee River. 

Both cities will share in the cost of the infrastructure required within the agreement. Fort Myers will build the necessary improvements to produce the reclaimed water from the South Advanced Waste Water Treatment Facility. Cape Coral will provide the infrastructure to transport the reclaimed water across the Caloosahatchee River to the Everest Water Reclamation Facility. 

Revenues generated from the sale of treated wastewater to Cape Coral will enable customers in Fort Myers to enjoy stable water rates. These revenues will help pay for the construction of future reclamation facilities at the city’s existing wastewater treatment plant.


Midtown Vision Plan

Additional public presentation of Midtown plan held downtown

The Midtown Vision Plan was presented on Thursday, September 6, 2018 at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers. The Midtown architectural model and project display boards were available for viewing at the meeting. A copy of the adopted comprehensive plan amendment is available on the project website at http://www.myfmdowntownmidtown.com/.

The Midtown Vision Plan’s area of focus is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard south to Edison Avenue and from U.S. 41/Cleveland Avenue to just east of Fowler Street.  The city partnered with the University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design on the project and received broad community member input on the plan, which is a part of the overall Fort Myers Integrated Downtown/Midtown Redevelopment Strategy to coordinate future growth.  


City officials advocate in Washington for substantial housing improvements


City of Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson, Jr. and City Manager Saeed Kazemi recently met with members of the Fort Myers congressional delegation to discuss the poor living conditions of Section 8 properties throughout the city. In an effort to champion the health and well-being of its residents, city officials scheduled the meetings to heighten awareness and request further intervention and partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The visit comes after recent critical safety violations and accumulating liens at the Jones Walker Apartments and Sunrise Towers complexes. As such, HUD is moving forward with the owners of both developments in an effort to address ongoing maintenance issues and restore tenant confidence.

The City of Fort Myers seeks to protect residents from unsafe conditions and has provided federal officials with copies of recent inspection reports and documentation demonstrating the urgency of the situation. 


Fire alarm install

“Safety Saturday” events continue through October


In honor of National Fire Prevention Week (October 7-13), the Fort Myers Fire Department will install hundreds of smoke alarms during its Safety Saturday campaign. On Saturdays during October, fire officers are visiting a different community to distribute fire safety information and provide training on the use of fire extinguishers. The fire department will continue visiting residential neighborhoods on Sundays to identify fire safety hazards and installing smoke alarms in homes that do not have working alarms.  
 
The schedule of events is as follows:

  • October 6 – complex visit: Gulf Stream Isles Apartments
  • October 7 – installation of smoke alarms in homes previously canvassed and located south of Linhart Avenue, between Nelson Street and Holly Road and north of Hanson Street.
  • October 13 – complex visit: Hawks Landing
  • October 14 – installation of smoke alarms in homes previously canvassed and located south of Rainbow Drive, between Fairview Avenue and Van Buren Street, and north of Edgewood Avenue.
  • October 21 – installation of smoke alarms in homes previously canvassed and located south of Ballard Road between Clotilde Avenue and Michigan Avenue and Zapato Street, and north of Michigan Avenue.
  • October 27 – complex visits: Westchase Apartments at 10:00 a.m. and Bernwood Trace Apartments at 1:00 p.m.
  • October 28 – Installation of smoke alarms in homes previously canvassed and located south of Victoria Avenue between Clifford Street and Euclid Avenue, and north of Lafayette Street.

Safety Saturday events will begin at 10:00 a.m. and continue for approximately three hours. Sunday events are expected to begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue for approximately three hours as well.

Residents are encouraged to contact the Fort Myers Fire Department at 239-321-7340 to sign up for a visit from the Fire Department and take part in the campaign. In the 36 months between October 2015 and September 2018, the City of Fort Myers experienced 177 residential fires. Only 43% of those homes had working smoke detectors installed. Nationwide, nearly two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in properties without working smoke alarms. Having a functioning smoke alarm in your home cuts your risk of dying in a home fire in half.

For more information about fire safety, please contact Fire Marshal Jennifer Campbell at (239) 321-7350.


AHA Heart Walk

Join the city's Heart Walk team today!


Since 2012, employees from the City of Fort Myers have participated in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk event. Show your support by registering to participate as a part the city's team at http://www2.heart.orgThe 5K/1 mile-optional walk will be held on Saturday, December 8 at Centennial Park. For more information on how to get involved, please contact Terry Pohlman, Program and Fiscal Manager in the Community Development Department, at 239-321-7905.


Connie Gleason's retirement party

Retirement celebration honors Connie Gleason


On Monday, September 17, city employees gathered to recognize Connie Gleason at a retirement celebration held at the Riverside Event Center. In addition to accolades from Ellen Clyatt, Director of Human Resources, and Saeed Kazemi, City Manager, Connie's 19 years of service were recognized with a poem by Eloise Pennington and by a video presentation of tributes from city staff and a special program by the Human Resources Department. Best wishes to Connie as she embarks on the next chapter.


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