Nine weeks after a group seeking the pros and cons of incorporation for Lehigh Acres met at Lehigh Senior High School, its moderator at that first gathering, Alex Dworzanski, said today that while the group has not formally met yet to elect a director, residents of Lehigh are urged to expect a second meeting in June.
"This is a busy time for some of us. I will have more time to devote to getting the people of Lehigh interested in studying the feasibility of whether or not we should or should not incorporate," Dworzanski said.
He moderated the first meeting on March 1, a Saturday morning at Leigh Senior High School, where some 90 people turned out.
"There were some there who were for incorporation and some were against it.
"We were not there to establish a group to push for incorporation. We have begun a discussion about the future of Lehigh and where do we want to go. Incorporation could be something we decide or we could decide to follow another path.
"I think the goal of all the residents of Lehigh is to make Lehigh viable and this is a start. Our group will look into what Lehigh's future should be," Dworzanski said.
He noted that at the next meeting in June, the date to be announced, the public will again be asked to attend.
At that meeting the public can sign up for again for numerous committees that are being formed. Dworzanski reiterated that people who sign up will be considering many things for the future of Lehigh, whether it be to seek incorporation or not.
"We definitely want to get the word out that this organization is not one to endorse incorporation. That is not what we are doing. We want to study which path Lehigh should take to become a better community. That is why we want those who come, no matter how they feel about incorporation, to be a part of the discussion," he said.
At the March meeting, several people signed up for committees, but none have met because they have not become official yet, he said.
According to Diane Turrill, another promoter of the group, there are so far eight committees and that several people have signed up. But more people can sign up to help up to seek the future of Lehigh.
Dworzanski, who taught school in Lehigh, and is a resident of Lehigh, is an assistant principal at a Cape Coral school. He said he has been a resident of Lehigh for about 42 years, his family moving here when he was a child 44 years ago.
He, like others have cited the crime activity in Lehigh, the need to clean up debris in parts of Lehigh and other issues to make Lehigh a more attractive place in which to live.
"Things have changed since I was a kid here. I remember the one traffic signal light at Homestead and Lee Blvd.," Dworzanski said.
Diane Turrill noted that of the committees, anyone who is interested in joining now, before the next meeting, can contact her at 239-357-6988.
The committees include:
- A Steering Committee which would include the chairmen of all the other committees.
- Feasibility study
- City finance and budget study
- City services
- Special taxing district study
- Community and public relations
- Boundary study
Dworzanski said there has been a lot of interest generated since the March 1 meeting. He wants the community to know that the group will come together more at the next meeting when committee chairmen will be named and more members of the public will be invited to be a part of the discussion.
"At the last meeting, a gentleman came up to me and said it wasn't that he wasn't for or against incorporation of Lehigh, but more interested in 'educating ourselves' about our future.
"That's what this is all about. We would like to invite some of those who have already taken a strong stand against incorporation. We want them to be part of the discussion and have a voice in what we do," he said.
Alex and his wife continue to live in Lehigh as does Dworanski's mother. His grandparents moved to Lehigh but are now deceased. Dworzanski and his wife, Marsia, have one daughter who will be a student at Florida Gulf Coast University next year.
His duties as assistant principal at Challenger Middle School at Cape Coral, keep him busy, but he says once school finishes, he will be able to devote more time.
While the group has yet to name a chairman or director, Dworzanski first said he wasn't trying to get the job, but when asked again, he said if offered the position, he would probably accept it.
Dworzanski is well-liked by those who know him and there are those in the community who believe he would be the ideal person to begin the discussion for a future Lehigh because he is well versed about the past in Lehigh and is eager to make friends and invite all to become part of the solution.
"Diane Turrill is the one who got me inspired to become a part of this," he said. Turrill Is a licensed real estate broker with REEI, Real Estate Executives Inc. in Lehigh.
"You know, Lehigh can be a better place. What we all need to do in Lehigh is to talk about how to get us there. And that includes everyone.
"My wife speaks Spanish and we want to include the Spanish-speaking community. We are making efforts to bring that community into the discussion," he said.
He said Lehigh residents need to look at other communities such as Estero and Cape Coral and other areas where the communities are growing in a positive manner.
"We may be faltering in Lehigh," he said.
"If we can get Spanish-speaking members, we can provide translators. We have made some attempts already to churches with Spanish-speaking congregations," he said.
"It is going to take every one of us working together as a community to find ways to make life better in Lehigh. I know we can do it."