Monday, June 27, 2005

Reply from the Mayor

Dear Richard and Ronald,

Thank you for your message. In a city as large as ours, we must keep
our established neighborhoods and green spaces intact. I see many pros
to having schools in this area, but I believe they are outweighed by the
hundreds of residents that call this area home. I have attempted to
speak with developers that would continue to operate the golf course,
but the asking price has been prohibitive to them. I hope we can find
such an operator, but it will be very difficult. The city,
unfortunately, does not have the financial resources to acquire the golf

I encourage you to speak at the town hall meetings that will be
scheduled in July. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your Summer.


Eric P. Feichthaler
City of Cape Coral
(239) 574-0440

Letter to the Mayor & City Council Members

To the Mayor and the entire city council members:

We want to express our outrage at the idea that the Golf Club on PalmTree
Blvd. is even considering selling to the Lee County School System. We
purchased our home on this golf course 15 years ago and the only reason we did was
because we wanted to be on a gulf course with a beautiful view and no
neighbors to look at in our backyard. I have spoken to numerous neighbors and we all
share the same feelings. We will do everything in our power to stop this golf
course from being sold and converted into anything but another gulf
course. We will all fight with every possible means to stop this from happening. We have
our life savings invested in our property and want to remain here for the
rest of our lives. The last thing I want to look at in my backyard is chainlink
fences and a bunch of screaming kids. If the golf course were rezoned and
schools were built the value of my property would drop at least $100,000 to
$150,000 for sure. We elected our mayor and city council to protect our rights and
our property. Please fulfil your duty and stop this possible sale and refuse
to rezone this golf course to any other use except a golf course. If we
continue to turn our green land into buildings and cement parking lots this entire
city will be under water if we get a #1 hurricane. We are prepared to file a class
action suit against the Golf Club and anyone else that assists them in
selling this property and turn it into anything but a golf course. If they can
be allowed to do this to us what is next ?? You must stop this from happening !!!

Richard Allen and Ronald Giermann
3934 SE 9th Court
Cape Coral, Fl 33904

Letter to Superintendent Browder

June 26, 2005
James Browder
Superintendent of Schools
The School District of Lee County
2055 Central Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33901

Dear Superintendent Browder:

This letter is in reference to the proposed purchase of The Golf Club in Cape Coral by the School Districtof Lee County. I am writing to share with you my deep distress and opposition to this proposal, not just in behalf of myself, but also in behalf of my neighbors in the Banyan Trace Condominium community and thesingle family home owners adjacent to The Golf Club.
I personally am in the process of retiring and moving to my Banyan Trace condominium, which I
specifically purchased for its tranquillity and peace, having been assured by the developer that The GolfClub was sold to its present owner under provisions that the land remain a golf course. In addition, Icarefully evaluated the zoning for that land to further assure myself of the developer’s presentation.
Naturally, I am scrambling to put my retirement plans on hold and will certainly not retire to Cape Coral ifmy home is going to be adjacent to a school complex. However, my primary concern is the bigger picture.
Many of my neighbors are elderly retired people who worked hard all of their lives to reach the pointwhere they could retire to a community offering peace, quiet and tranquillity, and they chose Banyan Trace for that specific reason. Moreover, many of these residents had to struggle to achieve thisfinancially, and carry significant mortgages on their property. For some, the assured drop in property valuethis situation causes will make it impossible for them to sell their condos, pay off their mortgage, and haveenough to reinvest in another property in a more peaceful location. They will live out their remainingyears upset and distress as they first endure years of major construction activity right outside their homes,and ultimately endure the disturbing environment a multi-school complex will bring.
The upset and anguish they feel is already taking its toll on many of my neighbors, who are frightened anddistressed, and certainly feel deeply betrayed. Another tragedy already in the making is that many ofthese same elderly residents are now on the precipice of seeking legal help, which will be an enormousdrain on their limited financial resources and emotional well being.
I implore you to recognize the multiple harmful consequences this proposal will deliver to so many goodand decent people in the Cape Coral community, who have trusted in their local government to makeleadership decisions in the best interests of all the citizens of Cape Coral. If there is anything I canpersonally do to further support efforts to achieve an alternate site for new schools, please contact me.

Sincerely yours,
Sue Hodinko
Sue Hodinko
Susan B. Hodinko
100 Harborview Drive, #401
Baltimore, MD 21230
shodinko @
4009 Palm Tree Blvd. #101
Cape Coral, FL 33904

Reply from Vice Chair, School Board of Lee County

June 27, 2005

Thank you for your comments regarding the proposed purchase of the Golf Course property in Cape Coral. I have shared your comments and concerns with the Superintendent for his review.


Robert D. Chilmonik, Vice Chair, School Board of Lee County

Email Reply from Mayor Eric Feichthaler

I realize you were only copying me with this message, but I wanted to
let you know I have read it, and I thank you for your input. Although I
understand the need for schools in Southern Cape Coral, I also agree
that this course is not replaceable, and that hundreds of residents
chose to live in this neighborhood specifically because of the Golf
course. As always, I am keeping an open mind, but I hope to attract a
purchaser of the course that will operate it as a golf course. I
encourage you to attend the town hall meeting on this matter which will
be scheduled in July.


Eric P. Feichthaler
City of Cape Coral
(239) 574-0440

Email Reply from Council Member Dolores Bertolini

Thank you for your input. Please be assured that Council will address all of your concerns and that, personally, I am working towards an amicable solution for all.

Dolores Bertolini

Computer Research Volunteer Needed

I need a volunteer to research some current data. If you are computer savvy and have some time to help contact me by email or use comments. Mary

Letter to the Mayor

Dear Mayor Feichthaler,

Please do not let this happen! I am a homeowner at Banyan Trace Condos. I just closed on a condo May 26, 2005,
investing all my savings. Buying on a golf course was my dream come true. I was physically ill at reading this
news. There has got to be a better solution.

Please prevent the destruction of a historic landmark as well as the quality of life for many retirees.

Thank you.

Dena Levy
4009 Palm Tree Blvd.
Cape Coral, FL 33904

from New Hampshire

Hi Mary,

Thank you for all your efforts.

I was truly devasted to read about the pending sale of the Cape Coral Golf Club.

I just closed on a condo at Banyan Trace on May 26, 2005. I first visited Cape Coral in March, renting a condo for a week. I

couldn't wait to go back. I especially liked the fact that the Southeast section of Cape Coral was an established residential neighborhood. When a unit at Banyan Trace became available, I jumped at the opportunity. It's on the first floor with a view of the 1st tee. I truly love it and was looking forward to spending my "golden years" there. I have invested all my savings. I believed that by being on the golf course, the property would surely appreciate in value.

Aside from the personal impact of this wrong decision, what about the destruction of the a historic landmark?

What about the environmental issues? What about traffic congestion, and road work? I can't believe that this is the only place to construct a new school. There is so much undeveloped land in the Northwest and Northeast sections of Cape Coral, why not built there, and bus the students.

Since I am back in New Hampshire now, I will not be able to attend this week's meeting. I will, however, try to attend

others. I will write letters, send e-mails, and make telephone calls to whomever necessary in order to prevent this
travesty from happening.

Dena Levy

4009 Palm Tree Blvd.
Cape Coral, Florida 33904

Dena Levy
3 Boulder Circle
Nashua, NH 03060

Petition Drive Volunteers Wanted

Email me or use comments if you are interested in helping out. Be sure to mention the area you would like to cover. Remember this affects all of Lee County. If this can happen to us it can happen to anyone. I can send you the doc in Word so you can get started right away. Current volunteers and block leaders please bring your completed petitions to the meeting Thursday night. Mary

Banyan condo owner

Hi Mary,

I just closed on a condo in Banyan Trace 2 weeks ago. My husband and I purchased this property for an investment as it was presented to us as the only condo development on a golf course in Cape Coral. It is a lovely place and we are devestated by the news that they want to put schools there instead of the golf course. There is a lot of land in the Cape that could be used for schools. Why should the property owners in private homes as well as in the condos have to suffer? It makes no sense to me and really sounds like the politicians are trying to benefit in some way. Let me know if there is a meeting or how I can protest this sale.


Becky Hussong
Vice President
ModTech, Inc.
1208 SW 49th Terrace
Cape Coral, FL 33914



I must begin by stating I am one of the homeowners who would be affected if the sale of The Club to the Lee County School District is allowed to proceed.

I strongly urge the city council NOT to approve the zoning change that would be necessary for the schools to be built. All of the surrounding homes and condos have been sold because they are on a golf course. According to the article in Saturday's News Press, Mr. Bill Moore(heading school support) made the ridiculous statement of "If anyone doesn't like the idea of a school there, I'm sure they could sell it as soon as they put it on the market." Nothing could be further from the truth. With the outcome of this decision up in the air,nothing will sell in this area until the zoning is either changed or upheld as a recreational area. Mr. Moore's comments are similar to Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake"

In the same Saturday News-Press, Janet Watermeier, president of The Golf Club Group, was quoted as saying having schools adjacent to homes will increase property values. She also was credited with saying prospective buyers want to know "are schools good and are they close?" Since when does living close to a school in Lee County guarantee you will attend that school and that it is a "good" school???

Why did Mr. Browder choose to make this decision by himself ($24,999) instead of having full support of the Board? Mr. Browder was quoted as saying "I'm not willing to do something that will upset the positive relationship the district has with the city of Cape Coral and residents there." It is too late, he has already upset the citizens of Cape Coral. What is next? Do they intend to convert Eastwood, Fort Myers Country Club and even Coral Oaks into school complexes....then there would be only Private Golf Courses. What a Sad Day for Cape Coral and Lee County.

Linda Carpenter
Cape Coral

Powers and duties of the city manager

Take a moment to read the Cape Coral Charter. See Article V City Manager.

Letter to Member Bertolini

Council Member Bertolini:

My husband and I purchased our (thought to be our last) home on the golf course in 2004 with the intention of spending the remainder of our lives in a quiet, well established neighborhood with wonderful views from our lanai. In the blink of an eye I our dream was crushed as we read the headlines of the News Press Thursday morning. Not only will we lose our right for the pursuit of a peaceful existence, the area will be losing a green space that can never be replaced. Our neighborhood is filled with mostly middle aged and retired citizens. I can't imagine why 5 schools in a community such as ours would even be considered due to the tremendous growth in the NW and NE quadrants. I realize that you were also left in the dark, but that should make you doubly determined to get to the bottom of these underhanded dealings. Please be a true representative for the good of our lovely neighborhood. Take a stand with the residents in your district and join us in our fight to save our community.

Here are just a few concerns & thoughts of over 50 homeowners I have spoken with in the last 3 days. I will try to keep it brief and to the point.

1) Traffic, congestion & noise.

2) Litter

3) Light pollution

4) Property values. Not only will values plummet but if residents are forced to move and buy a comparable home, their property taxes will increase as the purchase price of the new home will be assessed at the sale price.

5) Water runoff and flooding of homes and streets.

6) Environmental. Bald eagles, wood storks, tortoise, heron, fox, otter, ducks and other wildlife share their home with the golf course.

7) Trust in our local elected leaders.

8) The immediate dismissal of City Manager Stewart. Hired by the mayor and city council who were voted into office by the citizens.

9) The blatant underhanded hidden agenda of Superintendent Browder and his misuse of the $25,000. rule.

10) What does Frank D'Alessandro of The Florida Gulf Coast Group, LLC. have to gain.

11) Why weren't the homeowners offered the opportunity to buy golf course.

Please note this is only a small representation of their thoughts. I'm sure you will receive many more emails, calls & letters. Also understand that the homeowners are furious and willing and able to do everything in their power to stop the desecration of Cape Coral's historic landmark the 'Golf Club'.

Thank you for your time.

Mary Neilson

Letter to Mr. Browder and School Board Members

Dear Mr. Browder and School Board Members,

I am a 11-year resident of Cape Coral and my husband Rudy and I have owned our home on SE 5th Court for nearly ten (10) years. We have been good citizens of Cape Coral and good neighbors to the golf course owners. We are both clinical social workers - my husband works for Hope Hospice and I work for Southwest Florida Addictions Services. As social workers we are trained about the importance of relationships. In reality, life is about relationships.

For the record, I am vehemently opposed to the use of the golf course grounds as a school campus and I am not alone. I, and my neighbors, have many questions about the proposed purchase of The Golf Club by the School District. Some of these include:
  1. Why has this been such a secret? Because of the secrecy involved, it appears to many of us that there has been some underhanded behavior. What justification is there in the secrecy other than to squelch opposition?
  2. What other options have been explored? And what are the pros and cons of each?
  3. Please explain how disrupting an established neighborhood justifies the "pros" of this option. I expect that my home's value will plummet. Many of us fear that our homes will be taken via eminent domain to make access roads and space for the five schools and ancillary activities (i.e. sports fields, etc) involved.
  4. Let's be realistic, despite the "spin" about higher property values, I'd like some hard data to show that homes that surround golf courses converted to multiple school campuses increase in value. I truly wonder how many there have been.
We should be able to trust our elected officials. Frankly, I am disappointed in this entire situation and the way it has been handled by the School District and the City, which are both agents of the voters. The end should not justify the means; I hope that this justification is not being used. As good citizens and neighbors, we are entitled to answers to the above questions, a total explanation of this situation, and, hopefully, an opportunity to voice our opinions and concerns before this becomes a "done deal".


Mary Ann Elder
3660 SE 5th Court
Cape Coral, FL 33904

Letter to Council Member Bertolini

Council Member Bertolini:

My wife and I have been permanent residents of Cape Coral since 1998. We are not golfers, but we have enjoyed the beauty of the Cape Coral Golf & Tennis Resort since we first discovered it in 1997. We have enjoyed dining there and in recent years have even had Club Banquets and Luncheons there.

I am aware, from newspaper articles, that you, fellow Council Members and the Mayor were blindsided by these same newspaper articles. This is both inexcusable and unconscionable on the part of the City Manager. He is not an elected officer of this City. If he were, then he could be subject to recall. As an employee, he is subject to not only reprimand but also dismissal. I prefer dismissal because I cannot see how his "poor judgment" can be trusted in the future. How many other under-the-table deals has he been involved in these past years? We will never know but certainly can speculate and distrust his every action in the future. Is this a situation a city of 145,000 people should be in? I don't think so.

Superintendent Browder, the angel of the Lee County School Board, first threatens that the deal must go through, then in his normal slippery manner, speaks out of the other side of his mouth and states that "If this can't be a win-win for the citizens in the community, we won't do it". Yet he has already played games again with his $25k signature authority. He is the School Board's problem not the Council's but can the School Board take this land by eminent domain without Council approval? That point should be made public now not later.

I suggest that the City Council tell the School Board to rein in Browder by canceling the $24,999 contract. Then the Council or Mayor, not Stewart, enter into negotiations with The Golf Club owners for the City to purchase The Golf Club. The City to operate or lease the property for continued use as a golf course only.

I can understand the current owners desire to sell. Profit motive is not greed in the private sector. However, a city the size of Cape Coral should not expect to make a profit or even to regain expenses on recreational facilities.
Take funds from the CRA that wants to make us another Naples to help purchase the land. We are and will remain for years to come, a retirement area. With the cost of housing in Cape Coral rising exponentially, young families with children will soon become an endangered species. What happens then to the proposed five school complex in the middle of a residential area? Will the School District then be busing students in from the Northeast, Northwest and Fort Myers?

The timing of this power move by Browder is also questionable. Many residents have gone away for visits with families and friends in cooler climates as they do each year. In fact, my wife and I are leaving for Minnesota and Massachusetts on July 6th and won't be returning until Labor Day. We will not be able to attend forums, protest meetings or informational meetings on this or any other subject. We do want to go on record with you and the Council that we are strongly opposed to the purchase of The Golf Club for any other use than as a golf course. We do not abut the Club property but we live near it and enjoy its' presence.

John A. and Barbara E. FitzGerald
1109 SE 40th Street, Unit 101
Cape Coral, FL 33904
(239) 945-3459