Reopen Lee County Extension Building, 3406 Palm Beach Blvd, Fort Myers, FL

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A Petition to Reopen the Lee County Extension Building

 The continued closure of the Lee County Extension building (Located at 3406 Palm Beach Boulevard, Fort Myers, Florida 33916) since November 2014 is a major disservice to the tax payers of Lee County. The building, occupied since it was originally donated to the Extension Service in 1922, was dedicated as a public education center  in 1989,and was renovated several times including mid-2014 - a mere 6 months before its closure. Since its closure, the Lee County Extension service has been denied dedicated programmable space for classes and events, conducting its programs at recreation centers around the county, often at well below the required standards for public educational events.

It is a matter of public shame that the building has been used to house sports equipment for private organizations, using electricity and air conditioning at a cost to the tax paying populace of Lee County. Returning Extension Agents to this space will allow for economic efficiency, improved productivity in the Green industries sector, and job creation and growth as businesses emerge and expand in sectors dependent on the Extension service for training, certifications, licenses and permits.

The Extension Service provides invaluable educational outreach to more than 1200 businesses in Lee County, in the areas of Agriculture, Green industries and landscapes, marine services and aquaculture, food science and safety, and nutrition. As well, in its daily activities, the agency assists over 200,000 residents and visitors each year in making decisions about landscapes, gardening, and food issues. According to DEP data, the work conducted by the Extension Service allows the Lee County Government to avoid spending up to $11 Million per year for water cleanup and invasive species management. For every dollar invested in the Extension Service, the agency returns $38 to the local economy. This warrants attention by the Lee County Commissioners who should pay attention to the county’s economic bottom line and focus on efficiency and progress in a growing urban county.

We hereby sign this petition to show support for the reopening of the Extension Building, and the return of Extension agents, volunteers and staff to a workspace environment befitting the quality service they continue to provide to the people and visitors of Lee County, Florida.