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Editorial 634

Missy Layfield - Editor

The Price of Prosperity

This is the best season we’ve had in five years. Our hotels and rentals are busy if not sold out. Our restaurants are full. Our parking lots are packed. The beach is a sea of sun-worshippers. Estero Boulevard is in gridlock.

This week, well after college spring break season, we saw northbound Estero traffic backed up from Matanzas Bridge to Santini Plaza. That’s four and a half miles of serious gridlock.

If our County Commissioners were to find themselves in that line daily for three months as Islanders do, I suspect that our traffic and transportation issues would get a lot more attention than they do now from the county-owner of the trolley system and Estero Boulevard.

Nobody likes gridlock, or standing in line to get a table for dinner, but they are sure signs that Fort Myers Beach is having a good season. Not too many years ago, we looked forward to the return of a busy season to help relieve the economic challenges brought on by cold winters and the BP oil spill.

We got what we wanted and we are re-learning what it means to have a busy season. And many Islanders are tired.

I suspect there are some Islanders who have been working double shifts for too many weeks or sitting in traffic too many afternoons or are just wearing down from the constant crush of people enjoying our island and all it has to offer.

This is the price of prosperity. It’s April and we are as busy as ever. We know the lazy days of summer are coming, but right now, we’re still working flat out to welcome and accommodate our many visitors.

We know it can be hard to keep that warm Island welcoming spirit in place as we approach the end of season-for it will end in the not that distant future.

In the meantime, Buck Up Buttercup! Season’s end is coming soon.

We want to salute the Islanders who are working their tails off. The server bringing you that refill with a smile may not have had a day off in 3 weeks. Be nice to her. Remember to tip.

The Islander who is picking up trash left by someone else is helping us all to have a cleaner island. Bring a bag of your own and help keep our Island clean.

The service people who come to the island to fix your A/C, your washer or your sink. They have to sit in the same traffic we all do and their boss might not understand why it took them 3 hours to get on and off the island.

Here’s to the Islanders who smile when they’re tired, welcome our visitors when they want to crawl into a chair with their ear buds and a good book and are the face of our community to each one of our visitors.

We salute the good drivers of Estero. While not every driver is attuned to our Island ways, many of them are. This is still the least aggressive community of drivers we’ve ever driven in. Thanks for letting turning vehicles into traffic. Thanks for stopping at crosswalks. Thanks for watching out for pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers and skateboarders. Thanks to all who wave when someone lets you into traffic or across the street. Thanks for making room for emergency vehicles. Thanks for driving Island-style!

For our visitors, you may find it hard to believe, but in a few short weeks, we’ll be able to drive from one end of Estero to the other in 15 minutes! And walk into any restaurant in town and get a great seat without any wait. Or drive into Fort Myers on an errand without strategizing whether it will take longer to come back over Matanzas Bridge or drive down U. S. 41 to Bonita Beach Road.

We encourage you to visit us during our off-season and enjoy these simple pleasures with us, as well as all the other great things about our Island. The beaches are beautiful here year-round. The bands continue to play throughout the year. The boating and fishing are great all year long.

And once we’ve all had a chance to catch our breath, you’ll find our Island hospitality is second to none. So, hurry on back to paradise!

Missy Layfield