City of Palms Post: News from the City of Fort Myers

September 2018

Community Career Initiative kickoff meeting
Community Career Initiative partners include Terri McCall and Donielle Frizziola, Florida Department of Corrections, Helen Canicosa, Career Source of SWFL, Ellen Clyatt, City of Fort Myers, Dr. Sandra Pavelka, FGCU, and Joe Paterno, Career Source of SWFL

Information session launches new Community Career Initiative 

The Community Career Initiative (CCI) is a new employment program aimed at bringing individuals into city government training program for six months in order to 1) provide a comprehensive and collaborative reentry process for former offenders who are citizens of the City of Fort Myers; 2) foster purposeful employment, training and job skills learning opportunities and mentorship; and 3) reduce recidivism among those reentering the workforce.

Selected individuals will be employed in a trainee position and will be working in communities to assist with the city's Parks and Beautification Division activities and supporting the city’s Safe & Clean Task Force projects. Human Resources Director Ellen Clyatt bought together a group of city department supervisors on August 15 to explain the program and get feedback from current employees on what to expect from the program.

The city is partnering with Joe Paterno, Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, to make sure participants of the program have access to education and training resources through his organization such as specialized training for certification, commercial drivers license (CDL) training and equipment skills training. Terri McCall, Florida Department of Corrections Circuit Administrator, will screen individuals who are coming directly out of the corrections system. Dr. Sandra Pavelka, founding director of the Institute for Youth and Justice Studies and professor at FGCU, collaborated on the creation and rollout of CCI. It is expected that the first training group will start work in October.

CCI kickoff
Mrs. Ellen Clyatt, Human Resources Director, answers questions from city employees 

FMFD Chief John Caufield receives Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation

Chief Caufield became one of only 1,306 Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designees worldwide when he completed the CFO program sponsored by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. The voluntary program is designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate excellence in seven measured components including experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement and technical competence. Achieving the designation signifies an individual’s commitment to their career in fire and emergency services. 

Midtown area and surrounding communities

Midtown plan gains city council approval

After several months of citizen input and community meetings, the City Council voted on August 6 to unanimously to adopt Ordinance No. 3838 approving a comprehensive amendment in the City of Fort Myers. The amendment increases the base density Downtown from 35 dwelling units per acre to 70 dwelling units per acre and creates a new Midtown future land use category. The city's Community Development Department, the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency, University of South Florida and LaRue Planning among other partners are developing a cohesive strategy for urban design, regulatory revisions and long-range planning for downtown Fort Myers. The new Midtown area will be integrated with Downtown and Gardner's Park, accommodating smart growth, more housing options and enhanced economic opportunities. For more information on the plans, please visit 

S.T.A.R.S. Fort Myers
Kids enjoy a variety of before-school and after-school programs at the Dr. Ann Murphy Knight S.T.A.R.S. complex

S.T.A.R.S. lights up with fall programming

The Dr. Ann Murphy Knight S.T.A.R.S. program has announced updates on special events and plans for fall programming, and before and after school programs are in full swing. There is still time to register for students six and seven years of age, and 10 through 14 years of age. The eight and nine-year-old group is full. Currently there are 156 students registered for the after school program, and 35 students in the before school program. For more information or enrollment details for S.T.A.R.S. programming, contact Amber Smith at 239-321-7545 or

Upcoming events:
September 19 – Hurricane seminar hosted by the Community Forum at S.T.A.R.S.
October 1 – registration for Junior NBA begins
October 25 – S.T.A.R.S. fall festival 

Terry Cramer
Terry Cramer

Terry Cramer named chief administrative attorney for City

City Manager Saeed Kazemi has announced the appointment of Terry Cramer to the position of chief administrative attorney for the City of Fort Myers.

Mr. Cramer has served the City since January 2015 as assistant city attorney in the legal department. Before coming to the City, Mr. Cramer worked as a criminal defense and civil litigation attorney for a local law firm. He received his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in December 2011. Admitted to the Florida Bar in 2012, Mr. Cramer achieved his board certification in city, county, and local government law effective August 1, 2018.

The chief administrative attorney serves under the direction of the City Manager and handles the day-to-day operations for the administrative attorney’s office regarding administration and general government matters. 

Judy Hartwell Retirement Celebration
City Manager Saeed Kazemi and FMFD Chief John Caufield congratulate Judy on her retirement at the August 17 luncheon held in her honor. Best wishes to Judy as she embarks on the next chapter!

Retirement celebration honors Judy Hartwell’s 17 years of service with FMFD

A luncheon celebration was held for Judy Hartwell, who is retiring from the Fort Myers Fire Department after 17 years working in budget, finance and coordinating all FEMA-related activities within the city. Judy originally joined the city’s finance department in 2001, and prior to moving to Florida she worked as a management analyst for the city of Aurora, Colorado. 

Fitch Ratings moves City of Fort Myers’ bond outlook from stable to positive

Fitch Ratings, a leading provider of credit ratings, commentary and research, acknowledged the City of Fort Myers’ track record of effectively managing its operating performance through prior economic downturns by moving its bond outlook from stable to positive. The report, dated August 8, 2018, goes on to recognize city leaders’ efforts to budget conservatively while maintaining overall reserve levels, resulting in the city’s ongoing financial resiliency. 2019 budget recommendations will be finalized and adopted by city council in September. Additional details regarding the August 8 Fitch Ratings report can be found at

Yawkey Park
Come check out the latest and greatest playground equipment located at Yawkey Park!

Yawkey Park renovation recently completed

More than $45,000 of new playground equipment and amenities have been installed at Yawkey Park at the corner of Jackson Street and Lafayette Street. The park now features a typhoon slide, sloped climbing wall, a twister climber, trip door climber and an L-slide. The toddler area includes a tot rock climber, bongo steps, a side by side slide and another L-slide. The pavilion has been re-roofed and re-stained, playsafe mulch and borders were added to the play area, the park area has been re-sodded and five new shade trees were installed.

Access to vibrant and engaging places to play is important to our community. The Yawkey Park renovation is the latest in a series of projects, joining Jefferson Park and the STARS complex park to feature premier, state-of-the-art play structures. In addition, the Parks and Recreation division is currently adding new sports fields at Billy Bowlegs Park along with other amenities including a new contemporary full-scale playground and basketball court. The Billy Bowlegs project is expected to be completed in early 2019. The city also plans to install exercise equipment at Trailhead Park.

Foundation work begins on Luminary Hotel project

Foundation work has started at the Luminary Hotel construction site, where contractors are drilling foundation piles. The initial foundation work is expected to take place during the next three weeks. Water utilities and sanitary sewer connections have been completed on Bay Street. The box culvert has been cleaned and minor repairs are underway. The $91 million development will bring extensive new facilities, community amenities and approximately 250 post-construction jobs to downtown Fort Myers. More than $500 million in economic activity is projected to be generated by this highly-anticipated project slated to be completed in 2020.

Fire Department hydrant testing map

Fire hydrant testing now being conducted in FMFD Station #4 service area

Fire hydrants in the FMFD Station #4 area (located at the top right of the map below, shaded in light pink) will be tested during the month of September. Yearly inspections ensure the hydrant can be expected to perform properly and reliably whenever it may be needed in an emergency. Fire department personnel will be testing approximately 25 hydrants per day. Service areas 1, 2 and 3 have already been completed.

If you notice brown water during the testing period, please open your faucets and let them run until the water returns to normal. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding!

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