Mapping Out The Future of Fort Myers Beach

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Back in 2017 the then Fort Myers Beach Town Council passed resolution 17-34 adopting a “strategic plan” that was to serve as the town’s “blueprint to promote the health, safety and welfare of all citizens and visitors.” The resolution called on the Town Manager to report quarterly to the Town Council on the execution of the plan and the Council was to review the plan annually.

In all the Town Council meetings we’ve covered over the years, Monday will be the first time that we can recall the strategic plan being reviewed since its adoption in 2017. Nor do we recall the previous Town Manager filing quarterly reports to update the council. A “strategic plan” search of the town website only shows the 2017 resolution, no changes or updates since then and one council member told us this week the updates “never happened.”

The vision of the 2017 strategic plan was to be “The best small-town beach community: beautiful, enjoyable, unique.”

A strategic plan is a document that clearly articulates to residents where a community is headed. The plan typically outlines service levels and how they are being maintained for the taxpaying community. It helps a local government prioritize and plan its work. Formulating a strategic plan includes input from residents in the community.

For example, Sanibel began its most recent strategic planning process by seeking public input via a town hall meeting on February 15, 2022. The meeting was exclusively designed to provide citizens an opportunity to offer their insights regarding what should be valued and protected during future strategic planning workshops. City officials did not speak at that first meeting. Instead, twenty-eight citizens spoke, representing numerous groups and perspectives.

Then the city of Sanibel organized a group of 42 people who, seating at seven tables, spent two days in March of 2022 preparing the city’s strategic plan. The workshops were facilitated by Dr. Bob Lee, President of Local Government Advisors, Inc. and MPA Program Coordinator/Associate Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The City of Oakland Park, FL created their first strategic plan in 2007, revised it in 2013 and then again in 2022. That city has set 7 performance areas in their most recent plan:
– Financial Stability and Sustainability
– Infrastructure Needs
– Smart Growth and Development
– Community Wellness and Recreation
– Public Safety and Community Integrity
– Oakland Park’s Identity
– Environmental Stewardship Sustainability

The 2017 Fort Myers Beach plan outlined 5 core areas for the town to focus on: quality of life, financial viability and strength, asset enhancement and protection, managing change and gathering and using feedback. Within each of those core areas were strategic objectives. For example, in the quality of life core area, short-term rentals, docks and canals, policies for the end of streets and property maintenance were listed. Every strategic objective had a goal, a person who would lead that focus area, and a target date for completion.

It’s unknown if the Town Council plans to revisit the 9-page 2017 document and revise it or if they plan to start to write a new plan. What we do know is that the Town Council will hear a presentation from Angela Crist. Crist is the Director of the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government at the University of South Florida.

The Florida Institute of Government was created by the Florida Legislature in 1980. The institute was later named in honor of John Scott Dailey, its founding executive director. The Institute fulfills its mission through a consortium of six affiliate program offices located at the Florida State University, the University of Florida, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida Gulf Coast University.

Since 1995, the institute has conducted approximately 24,793 workshops and conferences statewide in Florida. Approximately 580,685 participants, a large majority of whom represent officials and employees from local government in Florida, have attended programs. The two most recent municipalities the Florida Institute of Government worked with were Dunedin and Sebring.

The agenda for Monday’s Fort Myers Beach Town Council meeting includes discussing milestones and successes, current work plan activities, a group discussion on treasures of Fort Myers Beach, a group activity focused on beginning to develop a vision, and an open discussion amongst council members.

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