Bill Spikowski, one of the area's most respected planners and consultants will be a panelist at the first Town Hall meeting on incorporation that is being hosted by the Community Council of Lehigh Acres and the Kiwanis Club on March 1 at Lehigh Senior High in the auditorium starting at 9:30 a.m.
The announcement that Spikowski of Fort Myers, and owner of Spikowski and Associates, would be a panelist, was made by Tami Baker, president of the Community Council of Lehigh Acres, who said her group, some 40 plus members is co-sponsoring the Town Hall meeting along with the Kiwanis Club of Lehigh Acres and its purpose is to inform the residents of what may be needed to incorporate.
In addition to Spikowski will be Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann who will also be speaking. Several more meetings will likely follow and the group will be a stand-alone group studying the possibilities of incorporation, including the pros and cons.
Speakers will talk about the feasibility and financial studies that are required, along with what steps would have to be taken to successfully run an informational campaign so residents could be apprised of all the issues.
But Baker said both the Community Council and Kiwanis Club are remaining neutral of the incorporation issue and that their only interest is promoting the forum which will provide necessary information to the residents of Lehigh. She said it is her understanding that committees will be formed at the meeting for the community to gather and share information.
The committee is expected to name its chairman and organize in such a fashion that it will be a group exploring the possibility of incorporation. The whole community is invited to the March 1 morning meeting and questions will be answered by those on the panel which include Spikowski and Mann.
If the group decides to pursue incorporation, it will have to follow a protocol of producing enough interest in Lehigh to convince legislators to sponsor a bill asking for the incorporation of Lehigh. That would come after a vote of the people, a referendum asking residents if they wanted to incorporate or not, which could take place in 2016.
At least two other attempts to discuss incorporation have taken place since 1995 the first a straw vote and the second at the beginning of the Great Recession. Neither made any progress.
Now interest in the possibility has arisen again. Those who come to the March 1 meeting will learn what the state and county governments require before voters can decide on incorporation to take place.
Speakers will talk about the feasibility and financial studies that are required, along with what steps would have to be taken to successfully operate an informational campaign so residents could be apprised of all the issues.
Spikowski is no stranger to Lehigh as he has helped in the past in many areas as the community developed.
Veterans Park, now the largest community park in Lehigh was landlocked when the only adjoining unplatted tract became available in 1995. Lee County was collecting impact fees to build new parks and libraries but expected unincorporated communities like Lehigh Acres to fund all operations.
Spikowski who owns Spikowski Planning, was retained by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for Lehigh to assess the tract, prepare a preliminary site plan, and identify funding options.
His company, based in Fort Myers, is a consulting firm that specializes in the challenges facing growing communities. Planning projects have included compete comprehensive plans, redevelopment plans for aging communities, and customized plans to enhance the character of individual communities.
Spikowski Planning Associates was formed in 1992 and has operated continuously from offices in the historic Richard Building at 1617 Hendry St. in Fort Myers.
In the past Spikowski has served as the lead consultant on many planning projects, including Lehigh Acres, Fort Myers Beach and the Greater Pine Island area.