The status of the Village of Estero hangs on a November meeting nine months away, but residents have been pushing for its development into a full-fledged city in southwest Florida for some time.
If approved, it will be the first since Bonita Springs’ incorporation in 1999.
“Vote Estero has been banging the drum for incorporation for the past seven years,” Mike Maloney, president of Vote Estero said, adding that incorporating Estero is in the best interest of area residents “It has the tax base. It has the community involvement. And it is viable.”
In fact, the Estero Council of Community Leaders has been advocating for Estero development, environmental rights and other issues, according to this article in the Fort Myers News-Press, for more than a decade.
If approved by more than 50 percent of Estero registered voters in November, according to another article from the Fort Myers News-Press, Estero would need a Southwest Florida politician to file and pass an Estero cityhood bill that must be signed by Gov. Rick Scott.
“This is a monumental time in the history of Estero,” ECCL chairman Nick Batos said back in July 2013. “The situation is right for incorporation. For the residents who want this to occur, we together will take on this challenge and hopefully prevail.”
If approved, the Village of Estero will elect seven council members from seven districts as part of its council-mayor form of government next year. The ECCL, which represents more than 30-gated communities, doesn’t plan to fill the council.
But that doesn’t mean Batos does not want residents to get involved in the process.
“We’re not going to have ECCL dominated districts,” Batos said. “The ECCL board has five people from The Brooks (gated community) and only one can be elected in that district. So the village won’t be dominated by The Brooks. But one concern I have is if people don’t get involved. Incorporation is being done because people said they wanted to have control of our destiny.”
The ECCL, which is spending more than $90,000 on lawyers, engineers and consultants for the incorporation movement, hired a consultant to create its seven districts.
ECCL member John Goodrich said the consultant used the latest Census statistics to divide Estero’s 28,000 residents into seven districts. About 4,000 residents are in each district.
A feasibility study last year for the Village of Estero said the community can expect a $3.2 million annual surplus. Estero expects to produce almost three times that in revenues, and have $5.7 million in expenses.
Estero plans to have limited employees and contract services such as police officers, but eventually it hopes to rent an office space as its city hall until the Village stacks up enough cash to build one.