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Missy Layfield - Editor
02/28/2013 at 3:10pm Delete

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.
02/21/2013 at 4:03pm Delete

Island Kudos

Here at the Sand Paper, we believe it’s a good idea to share good news. Every couple months, we use this space to focus on the good things happening in our community and the people who make our Island a better place to live. Kudos go out to…

The Lynx Educational Foundation, Captain, crew and all the local supporters who have made it possible for the Privateer Lynx to make Fort Myers Beach their winter home. Huzzah!

The Bay Oaks folks who acted quickly to recruit youth artists to paint a replacement panel for the Seafarer’s mural after one was stolen. The mural is once more complete.

Putt Putt Pub Crawl organizers and participants for their transformation of a fun day downtown into a fundraiser for a variety of charitable causes -- this year, the Friends of the Arts and their efforts to create an amphitheater for Beach performances.

The Fort Myers Beach Polar Bear Club whose Polar Bear Plunge on January 1st is a great tongue in cheek reminder of how lucky we are here in the sub-tropics.

Little League coaches, umpires, sponsors and volunteers who make this program a reality for lots of kids right here on the Beach. Stop by Opening Day on Saturday!

And for older kids, Bay Oaks has a 55+ softball program. Participation is up in many programs since the Town Council provided free membership to Island residents.

Dave Bertels and The Fish House for hosting the Annual Lake of the Ozarks Mid-Winter Party.
02/14/2013 at 4:26pm Delete

Time to Speak Up

Residents and visitors have been suggesting way to improve Estero Blvd for decades. Turn lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks have all been discussed, analyzed and debated.

How many times have you heard, "What they should do is…”

Islanders talk to each other, to Town staff and officials. They write letters to us.

For years it seemed as though we were calling into the wind for all the good it did us. The Estero Boulevard project seemed like another one of those problems that we’d talk about forever with nothing ever being done about it.

Until now.

Through the efforts of our Town Council and staff working with Lee County, the project has reached the design phase and Islanders are asked to weigh in on the prioritization of which segments of the road should be addressed first, as well as what should be done with each segment.

There are options and both Lee County and the Town of Fort Myers Beach are asking for your input.

It’s time to show up and state your case to the people who can make a difference-Lee County Department of Transportation.

You’ll see in a front-page story today that Islanders are invited to attend an important workshop on Thursday, February 28th from 4:30-6:30pm at St. Peter Lutheran to discuss Estero Boulevard design proposals.
02/07/2013 at 4:18pm Delete

Love Your Bay

Anyone who has the slightest interest or knowledge of the aquatic environment of our area knows that Estero Bay serves a very important role in the health and well-being of our area and it’s inhabitants.

It is the repository of freshwater from the center of the state as Hendry and Mullock Creeks and Imperial and Estero Rivers feed freshwater into the bay. Seagrass beds provide critical habitat for fish and a food source for birds and marine mammals like manatees.

The water quality of the bay is determined by a fine balance of freshwater flowing into the bay and tidal flushing through several passes into the Gulf. One of the largest and most important of those passes is Big Carlos Pass, just south of Fort Myers Beach.

Big Carlos Pass is also the primary Gulf access route for mid and south island boaters, as well as Lover’s Key boaters. And a beautiful access it is! Above water level at least.

Below the water, the pass has been deteriorating for years and has reached a critical point.

Boats that draw more than 2 feet are now running aground at low tide in the pass that at one point offered more than 20 feet of water depth.

The bridge built over the pass in 1965, includes a drawbridge to allow large sailboats to navigate the deep-water passage. But deep water is no longer an accurate description of the pass.

Many boaters are unable to use their boats, as they can’t get them through the pass at low tide. For some large sailboats, they can’t get them through even at high tide.

This translates into a very real economic crisis for our island.