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

November 2018

Public Works Gold Tournament winners
1st place winners (65): Jeff Tufano, Christian Gempesaw, Eddie Strazzeri, Jim Haney

22nd Annual Public Works Golf Tournament held at Eastwood Golf Course

Current and retired city staff members gathered on October 13 for the City of Fort Myers 22nd Annual Public Works Golf Tournament. The tournament took place at Eastwood Golf Course and fell on the first cool front of the year; humidity was low and the weather was perfect for the 18-hole competition. Participants enjoyed a hot catered lunch after the tournament and trophies were awarded to the first, second, and third place winners. A great time was had by all and the next event will be held in Fall 2019.

Congratulations to the tournament winners:
1st place winners (65): Jeff Tufano, Christian Gempesaw, Eddie Strazzeri and Jim Haney
2nd place winners (67): Jari Sanders, Gale Sanders, Nick Ursitti and Joe Sanders
3rd place winners (68): Dave Kauffman, Randy Jones, Steve Ambers and Scott Wirth

Dominican Republic National Police

City welcomes Dominican Republic National Police

On October 24, 2018 at City Hall in Fort Myers, City Councilman Johnny W. Streets Jr. (Mayor Pro Tem), City Manager Saeed Kazemi, Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs, Fort Myers Police Captain Jay Rodriguez, Captain William Newhouse and other City staff welcomed 25 members of the Dominican Republic’s National Police.  Local community representative and program director, Leonardo Garcia, President, CEO, and Founder of the Hispanic American Business Alliance (HABA), coordinated the program and delivered his remarks to the audience as well.

The event included a “Meet & Greet” followed by a presentation of the Key to the City, along with several special recognitions and remarks from City officials and police officials from the Dominican Republic.

Lic. Edward Sanchez Gonzalez, General de la Policia Nacional, expressed his gratitude and presented the City with a handcrafted plaque in appreciation of the City’s hospitality. The presentation was a culmination of a week-long training and demonstration program for the Dominican police who experienced many aspects of Southwest Florida law enforcement including SWAT, marine, aviation, motorcycle patrol and more. This is the second year of the program, and the first year it has taken place in Fort Myers.

Since 2014, the City of Santiago Dominican Republic has been partnering with the City of Fort Myers as “Sister Cities” for the purpose of sharing knowledge and best practice ideas. 

Jefferson Park Little Free Library
Little Free Library at Jefferson Park

Local girl scout creates Little Free Library at Jefferson Park

A small structure that resembles a newsstand, or maybe a mailbox, has been installed at Jefferson Park in Fort Myers to serve as a little free library designed to provide children with books to borrow or to lend. 

The installation was created by 10-year-old Evelin Rienzo, a 5th grader at Tanglewood Elementary with assistance from And Literacy for All (, a nonprofit whose mission is “to build family and community literacy one book at a time” by providing free access to a variety of books, especially for children.

Submitted for her Girl Scout Junior Bronze award, Evelin explains, “I wanted to open a little free library close to my home because lots of people do not have easy access to books. I hope this will help increase the availability of books in my community. I look forward to installing, stocking and working to maintain this little library.”

This is the second installation that And Literacy for All has worked on with Girl Scouts Troop 292. The miniature library has been reviewed and approved by the City’s Department of Parks and Beautification, and by the City’s Public Art Committee.

Jefferson Park, a community gathering place with tree-shaded playgrounds and picnic tables, is located at 1610 Jefferson Avenue, Fort Myers.

FMFD deployment for Hurricane Michael relief effort
FMFD members deployed for Hurricane Michael relief effort were recognized during the November 5th city council meeting

FMFD deploys to FL Panhandle; City sends supplies

In response to the State’s emergency response plan, the Fort Myers Fire Department deployed an engine company with one captain and three firefighters to the Florida Panhandle. The FMFD joined engines from Estero, San Carlos Park, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, and Charlotte County as Engine Strike Team 603 to aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

The strike team deployed from the Lee County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Oct. 10 enroute to the Florida State Fire College in Ocala. The same strike team left the State Fire College and drove to the Panhandle region to arrive by daybreak on Oct. 11.

The Fort Myers Fire Department’s deployment is a part of the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association’s SERP (State Emergency Response Plan) that was created after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The purpose is to provide coordinated inter-agency disaster management to assist the citizens of communities when disaster occurs.

The City of Fort Myers also collected donations during October for victims of Hurricane Michael. Items collected were sent to assist residents in Blountstown, Fla., one of the hardest hit areas. Blountstown is located in the Florida panhandle, about one hour northeast of Panama City.

Six Fort Myers firefighters honored at promotions ceremony

On October 10, 2018, six firefighters of the Fort Myers Fire Department were honored for their promotions to engineer during a special ceremony at Fire Station 1. In addition, two members of the department were recognized with years of service awards.

Fire Chief John Caulfield officiated as colleagues, friends, and family members looked on.
Those who were promoted to engineer include: Daniel Chandler, Shane Remy, Oliver Castellanos, Jorge Perez, Adam Cressy, and Jonathan Krizka. In addition, firefighter Jeremy Hurd was recognized for five years of service, and Captain Mike Lewis was recognized for 15 years of service.

FMFD adds Sunday events to "Safety Saturday" outreach campaign to reach more communities 

The Fort Myers Fire Department installed hundreds of smoke alarms during its Safety Saturday campaign this October. Fire officers visited 1800 units to distribute fire safety information and provide training on the use of fire extinguishers. In addition, 120 smoke alarms were installed and officers focused on providing citizens with information on cooking safety as it relates to fire prevention.

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. FMFD officers were able to connect with 3,000 residents during the month-long campaign.

Legacy Island Park
Site of the future Legacy Island Park 

Luminary Hotel project to proceed as planned

The Luminary Hotel will be lighting up downtown in early 2020 as planned. The settlement of a quiet title lawsuit regarding deed restricted land in downtown Fort Myers has been approved in court, allowing the long-awaited $91 million Luminary Hotel project to move forward.

In the interest of public benefit, the city and the defendants agreed to transfer the deed restriction to a city-owned island in the Caloosahatchee to be developed as the Legacy Island Park. The city will spend at least $500,000 to clear a portion of the property to create a park with picnic benches and other amenities, install security cameras, make improvements to a public access beach area and create an interpretive trail with signage and a monument recognizing the families that conveyed the land. 

The Luminary Hotel project includes a parking garage, event center and amphitheater, and will bring approximately 250 post-construction jobs and a projected $500 million in economic activity to downtown Fort Myers. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2020.

Christmas in Clemente Park
The popular three-dimensional Coeur de Noel floor standing decoration with animated garland will be featured at the Holiday in the Park celebration

Save the Date for Holiday in the Park events

The seventh annual Holiday in the Park celebration featuring a Winter Wonderland in Roberto Clemente Park begins on Saturday, December 15. The park is located at 3265 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Fort Myers.

The family event starts at 3:00 p.m. on December 15 with a special tree lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. There will be free food and drinks, Soul Santa and Elves Fire Truck Parade, and a Christmas Choir Showcase.

Attractions include a 35-foot community Christmas tree, 26 decorated palm trees, community group decorated holiday trees, and a three-dimensional Coeur de Noel floor standing decoration with animated garland.

In addition, the park is hosting the following special events:

  • December 20: Youth Night from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • December 21: Movie Night from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • December 22: Motown Christmas from 3:00-8:00 p.m.

The City of Fort Myers, Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency, Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers, First Assembly & Cornerstone, and the Lee County Black History Society are sponsors of the Holiday in the Park celebration. For more information, please call 239-332-8778 or visit

SWFL Community Foundation Collaboratory

Collaboratory hosts grand opening event

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation hosted a Public Grand Opening and Party in the Park to celebrate their new Collaboratory on Sunday, October 21. Located on the corner of Jackson Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 2031 Jackson Street in Fort Myers, the Collaboratory is a public-private partnership of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the City of Fort Myers. The transformation of the former Atlantic Coast Railway Depot and construction of a new addition creates a 24,000 square-foot campus that includes the Foundation’s regional headquarters and state-of-the-art shared space for the community and tenants.

The Collaboratory features vibrant spaces for work, gatherings and special events. In addition, state-of-the-art technology encourages regional collaboration. The Community Foundation funded the project with a $10 million New Market Tax Credit deal, or NMTC, a program that encourages economic development in distressed neighborhoods. Florida Community Loan Fund provided the NMTC allocation and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is an investor on the project. Whitney Hancock Bank provided additional financing.

The Atlantic Coast Line railway depot was presented to the city on Feb. 4, 1924, the same year Fort Myers was poised to join the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s. In the face of shrinking revenues, the Seaboard Coast Line (which had merged with ACL) sold its track, discontinued all passenger service into Fort Myers and closed the station in 1971. After sitting empty for a decade, the Southwest Florida Museum of History opened on the site in 1982. In 2015, the museum merged with the Imaginarium Science Center to form Imag, a science and history museum, and in recent years moved physically to the Imaginarium’s site at Cranford Ave.

United Way campaign kickoff event
City of Fort Myers attendees included Deputy Finance Director Holly Simone, Community Development Director Steve Belden, FMFD Chief John Caufield and Human Resources Director Ellen Clyatt 

City participates in United Way campaign kickoff event

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties kicked off their 2018-19 campaign on October 30 at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center. The city has set a $30,000 fundraising goal for the employee campaign, and has already received a generous contribution of $10,000. Community-wide, the organization hopes to raise $10.3 million for local programs and services. Look for additional information about the city's campaign in the weeks ahead.

FMCRA award

Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency videos win statewide award

The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) won a statewide award from the Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA) on October 25, 2018, for three 30-second videos created by Main Sail Video Productions, Inc. The award was received at the FRA’s annual conference.
The Roy F. Kenzie awards honor the best redevelopment programs and projects in Florida. Sixty-five entries were submitted this year; the CRA won in the Promotion category. The videos explain the role the CRA has in rebuilding and redesigning Fort Myers for the future, and showcase personal accounts of people who received CRA assistance.

The videos are currently being shown on City Channel 98, the Fort Myers CRA and City of Fort Myers websites, on social media, and through the Florida Redevelopment Association website and social media channels.

AHA Heart Walk

Join the city's 2018 Heart Walk team today!

Time is running out to sign up for the 2018 Lee County Heart Walk on Saturday, December 8. The City has formed a team to raise funds and walk across the Edison Bridge in the fight against heart disease and stroke, the nation's #1 and #5 killers. Please join us for this fun event and start your weekend off in a healthy way with your family, friends, and even pets! 

Festivities begin at 8 a.m. in Centennial Park, the walk starts at 9 a.m., and the event is over by 10:30 so it won't interfere with afternoon plans. Please access the link to the CFM “City Sneakers” team page below. From the team page you can also set up your own personal page to share on social media and/or to send emails to family and friends asking for their support. We hope to see your name on the City Sneakers roster soon!

Team Page:

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