Bonita Springs News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
11/15/2013 General

Bonita Springs Estero EDC - December Letter from The Chairman of the Board

Letter from the Chairman of the Board
Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council

For decades through the 20th century, visitors to Naples and Fort Myers considered Bonita Springs the entertainment hotspot of Southwest Florida. If you were a vacationer who camped on Fort Myers Beach, or took fishing trips to the sleepy village of Naples, you probably remember Bonita Springs as the action-packed town in the middle. That action took the form of greyhounds and the lively wagering around them. Ask around, and many of your neighbors will tell you that decades before they relocated to Bonita Springs, the dog track was their first impression of our community.

Of course, times have changed and our entire region is brimming with entertainment venues and myriad ways to spend time and money. However, the Bonita Beach Road interchange that The Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track made so famous in the 1970’s is experiencing a rebirth with the potential to become the region’s premier entertainment corridor once again. Scheduled to open in spring 2014 will be the Southwest Florida Performing Arts Center, with a 650 seat dinner theater just east of the track. Further west and about 80% funded, is the planned 400 seat auditorium to house performances for the Bonita Springs Center for Arts. All of these are at the north end of a Downtown Bonita community redevelopment area that recently received county backing to the tune of $13 million for road improvements, on-street parking, and a general walkable destination for visitors and residents to enjoy.

The centerpiece of this entertainment rebirth could and should be the Greyhound Track. Locally, the voters of Lee County see it exactly that way. Last year, they approved a referendum by 63% to allow slot machines at the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita Springs. These machines would ignite a $90 million investment by the ownership to create a first-class entertainment destination on the corner of Bonita Beach Road and Old 41.

The Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council strongly supports the County’s positive vote to support the expansion of gaming in Lee County. However, we do not control our own destiny in this regard. This month, the Florida State Senate Gaming Committee is holding hearings around the State of Florida on the topic of gaming expansion. Our State Senator, Garret Richter, is the Chairman of this Committee. They want citizen input and are taking comments online.

If you will, please take a few minutes to show your support by filling out the State Senate Gaming Committee’s online form at the bottom of the page at the following link:
http://www.flsenate.gov/topics/gaming#Comments

Thank you,

Vince Modarelli
Advertising Director - Community Publications, Bonita Daily News / The Banner
Chairman of the Board, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council