A standing room only crowd erupted into cheers as the board of the North Fort Myers Civic Association voted down a proposal to begin the process of changing the area’s name.
Association President Mike Land, who said he has been a full-time resident in North Fort Myers for 17 years, told the crowd that he thought that the name change could be the first step in setting the area apart from its neighbor to the south and attracting interest from developers and investors. He also said the association has had a difficult time in getting the community involved in the political process.
“We have tried just about everything to get the attention and participation of the citizenry of North Fort Myers with not much success,” Land said.
Land attempted to further explain his reasoning but a crowd of over 200 people, many of them wearing the red of North Fort Myers High School, drowned him out with a chorus of boos. After conferring with a one of the handful of Lee County Sheriff deputies on scene, Land temporarily regained control by threatening to end the meeting if attendees were unwilling to wait their turn to speak.
That brief calm was broken when members of the crowd started encouraging residents to become members of the association so that they would have more of a voice in the matter.
A crush of attendees moved to the front of the room, cash in hand, to pay the $10 fee that would allow them to join the organization, making so much noise that Land all put gave up on continuing the meeting as planned.
Annette Bragg, one of the many North Fort Myers natives who joined the association at the meeting, said that the size of the crowd demonstrated how important the heritage of the area was to residents.
“We showed him today that we have pride, respect, and we don’t want to change the name of our town,” said Bragg. “We signed up and paid our $10. You want our money you’re going to get our voice too.”
After repeated calls from the crowd, Land brought the name change proposal, which he said he now believed was doomed to fail, up for a vote. Board members voted unanimously to walk away from any further discussion of changing North Fort Myers’ name.
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