Highlights of the 209th ECCL Membership Meeting
December 10, 2021
After the welcoming remarks, President Jim Gilmartin introduced the speakers. Estero Mayor Katie Errington and Florida state Representative Adam Botana.
Mayor Katy Errington.
Mayor Errington provided a look back at the Village’s achievements during 2021.
The following issues were mentioned: –
Tax Rate Reduction
- Estero’s property tax rate was reduced to the lowest level in Southwest Florida
- Capital improvement funds of $19 million are available.
- FDOT Corkscrew Rd. interchange construction expected completion by the end of year
- Estero Parkway construction completed in March 2021
- Corkscrew Road widening (Phase I – to Bella Terra) has begun. Completion is expected end of 2023
- More landscaping planned along US 41 north of Estero Parkway
- Corkscrew Rd/Puente Lane traffic signal to be completed early 2022
- Planning and Design continues for River Ranch Rd, Williams Rd, and Coconut Rd improvements
Growth Management and Development Activity
- Establishment of new Land Development Code to regulate land use and growth
- Completion of Tidewater, the Reserve (at Coconut Point), Estero Crossing, and Corkscrew Crossing, in the works
- The Planning and Zoning board and Design Review Board have been combined
- Issuance of 4804 development permits from January to October amounted to over $149,000,000
- New high-rise addition to West Bay Club
- Gulfshore Opera has located its office in Estero
- Exploring the use of vacant properties at 41 and Coconut Rd
- During 2022, the Village will look at and work on the size and location of the seven council districts
- Three new council members Larry Fiesel, Joanne Ribble, and Jim Ward, were appointed.
- The new Finance Director is Chris Phillips
- Partnering with FGCU to analyze Estero River water quality
- Working septic to sewer conversion.
Florida State Representative Adam Botana
Rep. Botana of the 76 District is a native of the area and lives in Bonita Springs, although his parents and brother are residents in Estero. He was elected to office in 2020 and assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee and the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriation Subcommittee. As a new officeholder, he commented that building relationships with leadership and fellow legislators is essential.
He explained his particular interest in water quality and over-development. He expressed his concerns and interest in the incidence and effects of blue-green algae and stormwater runoff and fully supported the septic to sewer conversion initiative. He noted that the Calusa Watershed, which supplies 70% of local water, is also a concern.
Replying to a question about school funding, he replied that more emphasis should be placed on trade and technical education, which provides jobs without the debt and length of time in college.
In response to another question, he noted that the price of the railroad lines required for the Rails to Trails initiative has risen to $65 million – which he feels is too high and needs to be reduced.
The ECCL’s President’s Report
President Jim Gilmartin summarized several notable in which the ECCL is involved:
- Access to the Larry Kiker Preserve
- The use of the 46-acre property at US 41 and Coconut Rd.
- Septic to sewer conversion
- Community education on the use of CPR and AEDs
- Bike safety
- The remarkably successful Adopt-a-Highway program
The Communication Committee
Allan Bowditch mentioned the excellent response from residents to the recent summary document that explained the ongoing developments taking place in Estero. For those who may have missed it, the report is available on the ECCL’s website www.esterotoday.com. Over 40 residents who reviewed the article also signed up to receive our future communications.
The latest Greater Estero Community Report (the 4th released in 2021) also received many favorable comments. The report summarized the proposed development of a “Virtual Information Center” for the Greater Estero area. Prospective visitors, current residents, and business developers will be able to gain first-hand knowledge of what the area has to offer and why it is a beautiful place to live, work, and enjoy.
The report emphasized the excellent concerts put on by the Music School and their ultramodern Bower School’s Recital Hall and Dr. Sandra Kauanui’s Entrepreneurial School’s impact on our local economy which have resulted in many new business initiatives in the area. The report also summarized the plans for the development on Coconut Road and US 41 (Northwest corner) and the importance of FGCU to our area. The report is also available on the ECCL’s website (see reports).
John Quin (ECCL’s CFO) spoke of the ongoing process of becoming a 501 (c) 3 organization. The 501(c) 3 designation would allow better access to grants and more direct control of the funds. The ECCL currently has a 501 (c) 3 Advocacy Foundation, but the SWFL Community Foundation administers it.