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Missy Layfield - Editor
5 hours ago Delete

WHO ARE WE?

We all seem to want what’s best for our neighborhood, community, state and country, though we often differ on the definition of what that is or how to go about obtaining it. Here on Estero Island we have a strong sense of community. We have a vision of what our Island should look and feel like. Any change is suspect.

Will it take something away from our Island community? Will it add to it? Will it harm someone? Will it help?

Island-dwellers can tend to be a little insular – focused just a little too narrowly on our 7-mile piece of sand and sometimes on just our own home, our own interests.

Well, what’s wrong with that? Well, it detracts from our sense of community.

If I only care about what happens to my house and my neighborhood then I care less and less about your neighborhood and our Island community.

For example: Public restrooms in public beach accesses.

This battle has been raging for years. Visitors and those who depend on them want a clean place for visitors to relieve themselves during a day at the beach. Property-owners next to those public accesses don’t want the mobile restrooms placed there. In fact, from the comments that Town Council and CRAB have received, it seems many property-owners don’t want anything in those public accesses. No bike racks, no benches, no drinking fountains, no showers, no nothing. The Lee County Tourist Development Council keeps giving the Town money for these mobile restrooms, apparently because they agree they are an important need of our large visitor population. Each time the subject is raised, a handful of beachfront property owners appear and make it clear what they don’t want. The Town keeps kicking the can down the road because neighboring property-owners don’t want them placed in "their” beach access.
1 week ago, 04/10/2014 at 6:03pm Delete

Safety

We talk a lot about pedestrian safety on Estero Island. We talk about driver safety and awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists on Estero Boulevard. We urge people to watch and be aware of everyone else on the road. We warn drivers that it’s hard to see everything and everyone on the road. We improve our lighting. We add crosswalks and we add lights.

We also talk about safety in and around our waterways. Safe boating classes are offered year round. We talk about how the Kiwanis pays half the cost of swim lessons at Beach Pool so every Beach kid knows how to swim. We talk about doing the stingray shuffle during the summer months to avoid stings.

Safety is a very important subject here in Fort Myers Beach.

Something we don’t talk enough about is bicycle safety. This week a much-respected member of the local media tragically died in a slow speed bicycle crash. Jim Reif, Director of Meteorology with NBC-2 and formerly with ABC-7 died of a head injury after falling from his bike on Ben Hill Griffin Parkway on Sunday. According to the sheriff’s report, a group of cyclists in the area rushed to his aid and he was quickly rushed to the hospital, but he died of his injuries Monday night. The sheriff’s report states that he was not wearing a helmet.

Just like almost every bicycle rider you see on Estero Boulevard. Very few riders wear helmets. The only ones you regularly see in helmets are the riders in spandex, usually riding pretty fast down Estero. The people riding down the sidewalk or the ones heading to the beach or work or the ones coming home from the grocery store – they don’t wear helmets.

Why?

Will their hair get messed up? Does it make them look geeky? Are the only riders who need brain protection those riding at 25-30 mph? Is there a connection between spandex and intelligence?
2 weeks ago, 04/03/2014 at 3:42pm Delete

ISLAND KUDOS

The Sand Paper family is committed to sharing the good news about our community. Every couple months, we use this space to focus on all the good things happening right here and the many great people who make our Island a better place to live, work and play. Kudos to…

Nervous Nellie’s and all who have brought the historic tall ships to our Island. What a great opportunity to appreciate history!

Ascension Knights of Columbus for their donation of wheelchairs to the Bay Pine VA Clinic in Cape Coral.

The new board members and officers of the Friends of the Mound House for their dedication to this archeological and historical treasure right in the middle of our island.

The good folks who organized and supported the Seahorse Dream project, raising over $380,000 for the Golisano Children’s Hospital at HealthPark.

Ray Agnew who embarked on his cross-country walk on March 1st to raise funds for the Disabled American Veteran organization. He’s back home for a few days to recover from some medical issues, but hopes to return to the road soon. Fans can follow him on Facebook. Ray Agnew Awareness Walk.

All the Beach Relay for Life teams for their clever and fun fundraising ideas for the Relay this month.

Friends of Lovers Key State Park for hosting the Valentine’s Day Vow Renewal with Rev. Dick Tafel, reminding all of us what February 14th is all about. And raising some much-needed funds for a visitor center.

Joanne Semmer and Ostego Bay Foundation for hosting Master Naturalist classes, sharing in depth knowledge about the natural ecosystems that surround us. And for a fun Tea by the Sea event, offering a delightful afternoon of fun while supporting a worthy cause.

Speaking of fun fundraisers, the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts hosted several events this season that were enjoyed by attendees and raised funds for a band shell on the beach.
3 weeks ago, 03/27/2014 at 3:56pm Delete

Almost Made It

It’s the end of March and while we were going to use this space to tout the accomplishment of getting to this point without a single fatal pedestrian accident on Estero Boulevard, we can’t. While it is true that there have been no fatal pedestrian accidents on Estero, there was one Wednesday night on San Carlos Boulevard, just over the bridge. At press time, all we know is that a woman was hit by a vehicle and died while crossing the road outside of a crosswalk at about 10pm. Here at the Sand Paper, we often talk about how we’re all one Island community. We’re all saddened by the loss of another life on our roads. Celebrating our Estero Boulevard success, limited as it may be, would be wrong at this point. But we will talk about safety.

Anytime you mix pedestrians with 2+ tons of steel moving at 25-45 mph, the pedestrian is going to lose.

After two tragic accidents on Estero Blvd, the Town created a permanent Advisory Committee in 2012, indicating its commitment to long-term solutions. Staffed by concerned citizens, local public safety representatives and Lee County transportation officials, the group developed a range of suggestions that were approved by Town Council and passed along to Lee County, the official owner of Estero Boulevard.

Some of those suggestions have become reality: Safety banners, better lighting, refuge islands, rapid flash crosswalk lighting among them.

Other suggestions are still being debated. A lower speed limit? More rapid flash crosswalk lights? More lighting? We’ve learned that just because our Town suggests something, does not mean we’ll get it. The redesign of Estero Blvd will begin next year and there has been a strong safety component throughout the design process. But until that is done, we have to deal with what we have: an imperfect system that puts vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles in too small of a space, often too dark and often with traffic moving too fast. Add in a bit of "I’m on vacation-nothing can go wrong” and we have the perfect storm.