We finally know what is going to happen to the trunk of an old oak tree in front of the historic Lee Co. Courthouse in Downtown Ft. Myers. An artist will carve an eagle from the trunk and remaining branches. But the decision did not come easily, nor did a discussion of putting in pavers on the courthouse grounds to replace concrete.
"First off, this eagle is massive, onerous, and will overwhelm the courthouse, which should be the main point of what we are preserving and highlighting," said Commsr. Tammy Hall. "And the idea of installing decorative pavers at a cost of 65-thousand dollars, at a time when we are asking people to work for less money, well, I have a problem with that."
But three other commissioners, a majority, voted for the eagle carving. "I like the idea of our national symbol carved in front of the courthouse," said Commsr. Ray Judah.
Artist Marlin Miller of the Fla. panhandle will be paid 5-thousand dollars to carve the eagle. The oak tree was found to be rotting about 18 months ago, and much of it was cut away as a safety precaution. Still, a huge trunk and some branches remain.
Judah also pushed the idea of the decorative brick pavers. "This will match what the city of Ft. Myers is doing with the streets. It will enhance this tremendous asset!", Judah argued.
But his colleagues were not convinced. Finally, they agreed to have the staff study the option of selling pavers to sponsors, much as they did at Harborside Event Center some years ago.
The debate took a very heated turn when the new county attorney weighed in with cautions about pavers. Judah exploded: "I do not want to hear any opinions on pavers from the county attorney, thank you!"
The staff will come back in a few months with options on having sponsors take on some or all of the cost of decorative pavers, to replace the concrete, on the courthouse grounds.