FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

Contact:   Paul O’Connor, Lee County Planning Division,
                (941) 479-8309

                       

LEE A PILOT SITE FOR BETTER PLANNING BETWEEN COUNTIES AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS

 

FORT MYERS, Fla. (April 19, 2002) – Lee County is one of five test sites across the state selected to establish a collaborative planning process that coordinates school planning with land use planning. 

Governor Jeb Bush directed the Florida Department of Community Affairs to select five pilot communities for this effort.  The process could lead to more collocation and shared use of schools and civic facilities, and the identification of the best locations for future schools sites that take advantage of shared use opportunities. 

The county will receive a $20,000 grant from the state to begin the process.  The Board of Lee County Commissioners will formally accept the grant at its regular meeting Tuesday.  This planning process also will involve the municipalities, and input from other agencies such as the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, and local public service organizations. 

“Instead of duplicating efforts, we need to work together more,” said Paul O’Connor, the county’s Planning Director.  “This is a perfect example of being smarter about the way we grow.” 

Using the grant money, the county will: 

§         Execute an interlocal agreement between the School Board and all local governments in the county to establish a collaborative planning process to coordinate school planning with land use planning. 

§         Develop criteria to guide decisions regarding collocation and shared use of schools and civic facilities, particularly parks and community facilities. 

§         Develop a draft interlocal agreement for shared use of school and civic facilities addressing relevant issues including liability, maintenance and operation responsibility, security and shared capital costs. 

§         Develop a job description for someone to accomplish the following: 

Evaluate existing and future opportunities for collocation and shared use of school and civic facilities as well as future areas for acquisition of public school sites and public parks and/or community facilities.  Develop GIS-based maps showing existing and future overlays of master plans for schools, parks, utilities, roads and libraries.  The maps will also include an environmental overlay showing the most significant environmental features within the county, including wetlands, uplands, habitat, and floodplains.  These overlays will be used to identify the best locations for future potential school sites so as to take advantage of collocation and shared-use opportunities with parks and/or community facilities, to coordinate the sites with planned roads and utilities, and to focus interest on sites that are most environmentally suitable.