Time Square May Receive Upgrade Soon
On Monday afternoon, the Town Council of Fort Myers Beach held a workshop where they discussed the various Interlocal Agreements that the Town is engaged in before hearing a report from staff as to the conditions of the infrastructure in Time Square.
Council studied a worksheet provided by staff that listed the more than 30 agreements the Town holds with either Lee County or the state of Florida - including three that expired at the end of the 2011/2012 fiscal year - as Town Manager Terry Stewart and Public Works Director Cathie Lewis explained the nature of each one.
An agreement for maintenance of the traffic light at Time Square drew a question from Councilwoman Jo List, who wanted to know why the Town has to pay for a light that belongs to the county and is located on a county-owned road.
"I believe a part of that has to do with the pedestrian crosswalk there - we pay for the maintenance of that,” Stewart replied, and Lewis said that the light exists because the Town requested it be installed shortly after incorporation. She also said that the state of Florida repays the Town for nearly half the amount of the maintenance, which still didn’t sit well with Council who asked Stewart to look into the agreement further.
During a discussion on the Town’s Dinghy Dock for the Town’s mooring field, Lewis told the council that staff is looking at an additional location at the end of Gulf Road (behind Topp’s) as the current dock is full during season.
"I am planning on including the cost of that construction in my annual request for funding to the West Coast Inland Navigational District (WCIND),” she said.
The council then asked about the Town’s informational radio station, which used to be broadcast from an antenna on the roof of Town Hall until the building’s landlord prohibited its use.
"The antenna we had for it was located on the roof, and it needs a flat surface,” said Lewis. "We’re trying to adapt our existing equipment to relocate it to Snook Bight. If we are unsuccessful, we will be coming back to council to ask for new equipment - which probably costs around $15,000.”
Lewis explained that there have been other issues with the station as well, especially in regards to signal strength and that staff is looking at options.
Acting Mayor Alan Mandel asked what the station is used for, and Lewis replied for up to date traffic information as well as general information about the Town and upcoming events.
Mandel then asked Stewart if he’d had any dialogue with the county about the Town taking over control of county-owned parks on the island.
"The former county manager did nothing to make this happen,” Stewart said. "The new manager has agreed to have their parks and recreation director provide us with costs, usage, etc. They are now giving us this information and we are going to go through all of the data and return to you within 60 days.”
The council then discussed the rehabilitation of Time Square, including the construction of a permanent gazebo-type structure and the replacement of the pavers - which was budgeted for the coming fiscal year.
"The Time Square area - as you know - was once the main entrance to the island for vehicular traffic and was also used as a corridor for many utilities that service the island resulting in an extensive network of pipes,” said Lewis. "These pipes are old and need to be replaced.”
Cathie also explained that the pavers have been in place in the Square for 17 years.
"That area is dramatically influenced by the tide, and twice day the water flushes in there and flushes out, causing us to get a lot of settlement,” she said. "We are in there at least twice a month to reset some pavers so someone doesn’t trip and fall. This leads us to believe that the base is beginning to give way.”
Stewart explained that a much more resilient base will be put in when the area is redone.
"We are looking at putting this together as part of our water utility project,” he said.
Lewis gave an estimate as to the project’s cost at just under a million dollars, provided that the old pipes can be left in place rather than removed.
"The current pipe running through the square is 18-20 inches and will be replaced by an 18 inch pipe, and an emergency water line will be replaced by a 6 inch pipe,” she said. "We also estimate the project to take about six months. I propose doing it in two sections - one right at the cusp of season, April, work though June, then return at the end of turtle season and finish by the beginning of December.”
Council agreed to allow staff to look into options for adding the project to the first phase of the rehabilitation of the Town’s water system.
The next workshop of the Town Council of Fort Myers Beach will be held on Tuesday, February 19th at 9:30am at Town Hall, 2523 Estero Boulevard.
Keri Hendry Weeg