Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann of Alva says there is good staff support for projects planned for the redevelopment of Lehigh, with the first starting on Homestead Rd.
"We're going to spend over $2 million, that amount expected to be approved at our Sept. 19 county budget meeting, to start things moving for Lehigh," Mann said.
He told Lehigh Acres Community Planning Corp. members that things look good for Lehigh.
"I feel very good about your plans now for Lehigh. We are going to have the funding to start the engineering and planning work to bring about changes in downtown Lehigh, beginning on Homestead Rd.," he said.
The panel and the county's planning department, along with a large group of Lehigh residents, have been working for more than two years on changing the look of Lehigh Acres.
One of those objectives is to develop at least three community centers with the first likely one being in the downtown Homestead Rd. area. Also planned are at least three and maybe four round-abouts.
Claude Spellman of Lehigh was voted in unanimously to become a member of the LACPP board. Spellman, is a retired construction worker and contractor who has served on various boards in other areas of the country, including having a zoning director's background.
"I have been in the construction business for 45 years and I have worked in different areas. I remember Lehigh back when it was just a small town. We came back to Lehigh to retire and have been here about a year and half," he told the board members.
One vacancy is still open and LACPP Chairman Edd Weiner said those in the community who would like to serve on the board, which meets on the second Wednesday night of the month, should send a short resume and/or letter to the LACPP at PO Box 339, Lehigh Acres FL 33970. You can visit their website at www.lehighacresplanning.com for more information about the group.
"We were expecting Charles Taylor of Lehigh who has said he wants to be on the board but he has not shown up for the past two months. So we are prepared to accept one more member who should attend the next meeting in October," Weiner said.
Reporting on future development in Lehigh, Weiner said that hopefully by January or February of 2013, work can begin on the downtown area so residents can see their plans come to be.
He reported that a proposed Shell gasoline station at the corner of Gunnery Rd. and Lee Blvd. had gone before the county hearing examiner and was approved with additional pumps than had been planned. The LACPP rejected the proposal a few months back, but Weiner said it will be built, despite the LACPP's objections.
"Just what we need there," said member Linda Carter. "I hope we don't have a fire there in that area with all those pumps."
Fort Myers Beach Mayor Larry Kiker came to the meeting and spoke briefly about his candidacy for the Lee County Commission. He said he was familiar with much of what Lehigh has been going through to improve its community because Fort Myers Beach went through some of the same issues before it incorporated.
"And Lehigh is much larger in population that Fort Myers Beach," he said. Kiker will give up the office of mayor of the beach in October. Committee members offered to brief him and show him around Lehigh and make him familiar with future plans. But first he has to win the November election.