The “Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches” group appears to have run into a snag in their attempt to reconstruct the stone arches that spanned San Carlos Boulevard from 1924 to 79 when the Matanzas Pass Bridge was built. The snag is primarily that nobody really seems to want the structure in their backyard. Four of the five FMB Town Council members were not in favor of putting it in the County-owned Crescent Beach Park and there appears to be no suitable alternative.
The group’s biggest government ally is Lee County District 2 Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, whose district isn’t where the arches would go. Fort Myers Beach and San Carlos Island are in District 3, whose commissioner is Ray Sandelli, recently appointed following the passing of Commissioner Larry Kiker. Sandelli has yet to weigh in on the matter.
But wait, there is a suitable alternative. The original idea of the arches was to have cars pass under them as an entrance to the Island. Well, on the west side of the bridge on San Carlos Island is the Diversified Yacht Services building, a not-very-attractive, square multi-story structure. Directly across from it on the east side is the new Gulf Star Marina, a dry-storage boat facility in an even less-attractive square multi-story building.
All the Save the Arches group would need to do is make nice to the owners of both buildings and get their permission to create some kind of span over the road with signage welcoming people to the Beach. Depending on how much money there was to spend, the span could consist of anything ranging from a simple clothesline strung across the road with a hand-painted banner to a serious hurricane-proof structure like those spanning Interstate Highways or the entrance to the Airport. It could have artistic signage featuring the image of the old arches and a welcoming greeting. Problem solved!
Drat!! I forget that any such project would also have to be agreed to by the Florida Department of Transportation since the State owns the bridge. So no matter how brilliant (or stupid – take your choice) the idea is, the chances that it would ever happen just got greatly reduced.
by Jay Light