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Missy Layfield - Editor
04/24/2014 at 4:38pm Delete

The Joys of Recovery

It’s just about unanimous; this has been the best season Fort Myers Beach has seen in years. Our hotels and rentals have been busy if not sold out. Our restaurants have been full. Our parking lots have been packed. The beach has been a sea of sun-worshippers.

Even a later date for Easter was not enough to explain our busier streets, cafes, shops and bars. The Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, the folks that collect and distribute our bed tax – charged on rentals of less than 6 months – recently shared that Lee County’s February bed tax collection was up 16.9% compared to February 2013.

That is a huge leap --- but one that will not surprise anyone who has been hustling to provide service and Island hospitality to our visitors. We got what we wanted and we are all relearning what it means to have a busy season. And, let’s face it, many Islanders are tired. And we’re not done yet!

Our secret is out! May and June are being discovered as idyllic months to visit Fort Myers Beach. No traffic, no crowds, beautiful weather and all the same great amenities that draw folks here during our peak season. Yes, May and June are bound to be busy.

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 the end of April and it has been a very busy one. We know the lazy days of summer are coming, but right now, we’re all 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-but hang in there. Our visitors deserve to know that we are happy that each and every one of them chose to visit our Island!

04/17/2014 at 3:06pm Delete


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.

04/10/2014 at 6:03pm Delete


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.


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?

04/03/2014 at 3:42pm Delete


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.