For the second time in the month December, the Lee County Commission Board has decided that community activist Don Eslick should not have his name associated with a county-owned bridge in Estero.

The bridge in question was originally named the Estero Parkway Bridge but was renamed the Don Eslick Bridge six years ago in Eslick’s honor.

Eslick, sometimes called “Mr. Estero” by his supporters, is credited with helping the Village of Estero become an incorporated community.

However Eslick’s activities are not without controversy. For example, Eslick has been directly involved with multiple failed lawsuits against Lee County over the years costing the county staff and tax-payers both time and money.

On December 4, Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass made a motion to rename the bridge once again — this time to the Estero Community Bridge. The commissioners quickly voted unanimously in favor of Pendergrass’ motion.

Two weeks later at the county’s meeting on December 18, Commissioner Frank Mann said he was caught off-guard by the whole situation and did not realize it was the specific bridge named after Eslick that was being renamed. None of the other commissioners said they were confused about the votes they had cast on December 4.

At the December 18 meeting Mann made a motion to restore the name of the bridge to the Don Eslick Bridge.

Prior to Mann making that motion approximately ten Estero residents addressed the commissioners to voice strenuous support for Eslick and to implore the board to undo the name change that they had voted 5-0 in favor of just two weeks earlier.

However, Mann’s motion did not receive a second from another commissioner and therefore the motion died. The bridge will stay named the Estero Community Bridge.

As a result of all this, Pendergrass has become the target of attacks in the media. The News-Press and Fox4 both called out Pendergrass for doing what he felt was right for the community.

It bares repeating that when Mann made the official motion to change the bridge’s name back to honor Eslick, every other Lee County board member refused to even entertain the idea. I’m not saying I’m familiar with the whole situation, but surely the Commissioners must have their reasons.

So while Pendergrass is the focus of the displeasure from some residents of the Village of Estero, it’s quite clear that the Board of County Commissioners decided as a group that they supported Pendergrass and the name change.

Pendergrass stated at the December 18 county meeting that he received communication from some leaders in Estero who were concerned they’d now have to find something else to name after Eslick, or else they would be “bullied”.

Commissioner Pendergrass said that he was not going to set policy to appease bullies.

No matter what else you read or hear about this situation the bottom line is that four out of five of the Lee County Commissioners feel that Eslick’s name does not deserve to be on that county-owned bridge, and their votes at the December 4 meeting — as well as their refusal to even vote on changing the name back December 18 — reflects the elected Lee County board’s official position.


Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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