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Strategic planning begins for Newton Beach Park

January 16, 2019
By JESSE MEADOWS ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A beach park with history is set for a long-awaited upgrade.

About 30 people from the Fort Myers Beach community were invited by the Cultural and Environmental Learning Center and Advisory Board to Town Hall on Monday to begin strategic planning for Newton Beach Park.

The first rule of the planning session? No idea is a bad idea.

Article Photos

Lorna Kibbey facilitated the first strategic planning session for the park.


Facilitated by Lorna Kibbey, the participants split into small groups to work on brainstorming activities, like writing a statement of purpose for the park and outlining a vision.

When surveyed on their view of the park's primary use, 93 percent of the participants stated that they would like to see it serve as a place to enjoy the beach and access public amenities.

The next most popular response was to bring in revenue by renting the park for events, and then to educate visitors on the history of the site.

The Seven Seas cottage on the estate was home to Jim and Ellie Newton, who are famous for the book "Uncommon Friends," in which Jim Newton details his relationships with figures like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach obtained a $2.3 million grant from the State of Florida in 2003 to purchase the property, turning the cottage into a passive, self-touring museum.

When surveyed about what makes Newton Park successful, 60 percent of the participants said the property itself.

The group pooled their visions together, agreeing that the park should be "an educational and recreational experience for all."

The general public will be invited to share their input on Newton Park's strategic plan at a meeting on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 9 a.m.



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