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Editorial 629

Missy Layfield - Editor

Welcome to March on Fort Myers Beach!

The beach is covered with umbrellas, chairs and towels. Our roads are full. Our restaurants, bars and shops are bustling. It must be March. Our Island is full of visitors, many of them annual visitors who are curious about what’s happened since they were here last, so here’s a brief state of the beach report.

Estero Boulevard -- Still gridlocked in season, still dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.But there has been some movement on improving the road and the safety of those who use it. Lee County has committed to the planning and rebuilding of one mile of Estero Blvd. They held a meeting last night to solicit input from residents on which segment to improve and what improvements to make. The Town rebuilt their mile-long stretch of Estero Blvd north of the Matanzas Bridge last year. The County owns the remaining 6 miles of the road. We hope they find the wherewithal to finish the entire 6 miles.

In the meantime, the Town set up a Traffic Safety committee after last year’s Estero deaths. They made recommendations that include improved lighting, pedestrian islands and crosswalk placement. While those efforts are not yet complete, you can see progress now.

We urge you to please be hyper-vigilant when driving and walking along Estero Boulevard.

Seafarer’s Mall -- Lee County bought the Seafarer’s Mall property and the beach property across the street. The beach has become Crescent Beach Family Park with some cool, funky shade structures, picnic tables and volleyball courts. The Seafarer’s Mall property is an empty lot surrounded by a fence. The future of the lot is unknown after Lee County abandoned plans for a parking lot. This winter, the fence got a nice covering when local kids painted murals that now cover the fence. Some moron stole one of the murals –who is so heartless that they’d steal kids’ artwork? Our beach kids and the Parks & Rec Department jumped into action and there is now a replacement mural in place-so you might not have ever known that one was missing for a few weeks.

Mound House -- The landscape project is nearing completion after some irrigation work. The underground exhibit is done. One of our tropical storms last summer caused some flooding in the exhibit, but it was quickly repaired. A kayak landing and storage facility is being built now on the grounds. The kayak landing will allow an easy connection to the Calusa Blueway Kayak Trail in Estero Bay. The renovation work in the actual house is in the contract bid phase, so the completion of the Mound House is actually in sight.

Ebbtide – This huge San Carlos Island development recently won approval from Lee County. The project will bring 5 condo towers, up to 180 feet tall, plus a convention center, hotel, retail and offices to the island in the vicinity of Salty Sam’s Marina. While there is no construction date set, there has been concern that it will forever alter the nature of San Carlos Island. The impact on Beach traffic is also a concern, though the developers promise a water taxi service to help mitigate that. Change is coming to San Carlos Island.

COP on the Beach – Consumption on Premise or alcohol service on beachfront bars’ property on the sand is a done deal. After Town Council approved the new rules, several beachfront bars now have the right to serve their customers on their sandy beachfront within marked areas. And the world did not end.

Beach Library – The new building and renovation of the old building is complete. A Grand Opening is planned for March 22-23. The new library provides a glimpse of what 21st century libraries should be-a gateway to information and knowledge using a wide variety of formats and delivery systems. It’s not just about books anymore. Stop by to see the new library for yourself and learn how the tide clock works.

Elections – Fort Myers Beach voters were caught in the Lee County voting snafu last November caused by not enough vote counting machines, too many long amendments and restricted early voting combined with missing absentee ballots. I’m being polite when I call it a snafu. And yes, I know what that means. Many voters stood in line for over 3 hours to cast a ballot here on the beach or bailed when their legs or back gave out before they got to the front of the line. There’s lots of talk about how it will be fixed next time. We’ll see.

Incumbents held their seats in local elections for the Fire and Library Boards. Former FMB Mayor, Larry Kiker, was elected to the Lee County Commission. Our March Town Council election was called off when only the two incumbents filed to run for the two seats on the ballot. Bonus = thousands saved on an election.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign – The Town sign ordinance, many years in the making, was finally approved and enforcement began. You’ll see the difference when you drive down Estero Blvd. There are lots of beautiful new signs. And a few holdouts that are fighting for a variance.

Lynx – The 1812 era replica ship is sitting at her winter berth right here in Fort Myers Beach! They came for a three-week visit in January and were so impressed with Beach hospitality and support that the Lynx Educational Foundation chose our island for their winter port. You’ll find them at Snug Harbor Marina (Nervous Nellie’s) through the end of March before setting sail for northern ports of call for the summer.


Missy Layfield