A Livable Lee

Seal of Lee County, Florida

Do you enjoy living in Lee County?  We do – but we admit that we’re worried about the future of our community.  Rampant development is increasing traffic and impacting our schools.  Lee Health tries, but can’t seem to keep up with our growing population and there is a constant shortage of medical doctors.  Clean water appears to be a thing of the past.  More and more, this county is becoming unlivable.

So how do you define livability?  According to AARP, “a livable community is one that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and offers supportive community features and services.”   When you bike on our roads, do you feel safe?  Can you walk to your local Publix without having to dodge cars?  When you take your child to the school bus stop, are there sidewalks, lighting?  How long do you have to wait to see a doctor, either at the local emergency room or at a medical office?  And how long does it take you to get over the Cape Coral Bridge to get home after a tiring workday?

Cape Coral Bridge between Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Florida.

The fact is that we are growing so fast, we are losing the quality of life we have enjoyed in the past and until we get it under control, the situation is not going to get any better.

Stand Up To Developers

Nobody is calling for a halt to development, which is an important part of our economy.  But unfortunately, development is the tail wagging the dog and is negatively impacting our quality of life in many ways.  In our county, we have a plan called Density Reduction/Groundwater Recharge (DR/GR) which originally was meant to control overdevelopment in southeast Lee County due to the potential for wetlands destruction and demands of increased housing density on our water resources.  Time and again, the DR/GR plan is either simply ignored or cast aside by those in charge of zoning in the county.

Better Transit Options

Building more roads just invites more cars.  Simply put, we need a bus network that covers the entire county and offers our aging population an alternative to driving.  Many communities around the county have senior-only transportation options that take older citizens to medical parks, shopping centers and other amenities.

A livable community is one that invites its citizens out – out biking, out walking and hiking, out enjoying public gatherings.  With so many gated communities, it’s a difficult challenge but one from which we should not shy away.  Cape Coral has built a network of bike paths and is embarking on developing a system of parks.  The rest of Lee County should follow its lead, perhaps, even requiring developers to build these amenities for all our citizens, not just those who buy houses within their gates. 

Water Quality

We also cannot wait for the blue-green algae to return before taking action to remedy next year’s slime.  The governor’s actions on water quality are welcomed; however, they will take years to implement.  What are we planning should we find our canals polluted again next summer?  Tourism is an important economic driver, but let’s also consider the health and recreational effects on our year-round residents.

Time For A Change?

Our concerns are not new and have been voiced by many over the years.  But no matter how many people speak up, nothing seems to change – or slow down.  Perhaps the answer is to remind our county officials that listening to those they represent – rather than those who donate to their campaigns – is critical to staying in office.