Arches Discussion Delayed

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    County Funds Park Improvements

    From 1924 through 1979, visitors to Fort Myers Beach passed under a historic stone arch entryway onto Estero Island, before the construction of the Matanzas Pass Bridge forced their destruction. For roughly the past five years, the “Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches, Inc.,” volunteer group gathered up the remaining stones from the original arch, with the hope of rebuilding them at or near the original San Carlos Island location.

    FMB-Arches-Discussion
    Location proposed by Lee County officials for the arches.

    Lee County District 2 Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass indicated to “Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches” that he would champion their cause at the November 5 Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) Meeting, including arch restoration at Crescent Beach Family Park along with related construction costs. The item, however, was not on the formal agenda, and when it came time for “Commissioner Remarks,” Commissioner Pendergrass stated that “I had an item but will delay it until our next meeting on November 19.”

    Following the meeting, Commissioner Pendergrass said he postponed the proposal for two weeks to more thoroughly discuss it with the Town of Fort Myers Beach leadership.

    County Parks & Estero Blvd.

    Lee County Commissioners approved funding for county projects on FMB, but did not discuss the Fort Myers Beach Arches restoration project. Photo by Gary Mooney.

    Lee County Commissioners under their “Consent Agenda” approved four high profile Fort Myers Beach projects.

    They awarded a $900,471 contract to Bayshore Construction, Inc., to replace a portion of the boardwalk, benches, bridges, pavilion and a kayak launch at Matanzas Pass Preserve (MPP), as these items sustained severe damage from Hurricane Irma in September 2017. The total estimated cost to design, permit, and construct the improvements is $1.2 million, with funding from the Tourist Development Tax. In a corresponding act, Lee County Commissioners approved as well a Change Order of $72,250 to Coastal Engineering Consultants, for a total of $141,250 for construction engineering and inspection services for the MPP Boardwalk Replacement and Kayak Launch through Tourist Development Taxes. These MPP projects will be complete in Fiscal Year 2020.

    The BoCC awarded a $419,964 contract to the Fort Construction Group of Naples to build dune walkovers and ADA ramps at Lynn Hall Memorial Park. The total cost for design, permit and construction is $585,540 from Tourist Development Tax funds.

    Lee Commissioners approved a Construction Engineering & Inspection Services Change Order to Johnson Engineering, Inc., for $1,062,306 to continue supervising the construction of Estero Boulevard through the completion of Segments 3 & 4, bringing the total to $2,445,309.

    SIDEBAR:

    Arch Developments

    In a late September press release, Steven Ray McDonald, President of Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches, Inc, reported that the group had met with Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass and the county manager to discuss restoration of the Fort Myers Beach Arches. At that time the county offered the group a 60-foot section of Crescent Beach Family Park that would allow construction of a 60% replica of the arches. McDonald indicated that the placement would be near the beach side of the park.

    On October 23, McDonald shared Pendergrass’ letter to the group indicting that he would bring the topic up at the November 5 Board of County Commissioners meeting. That letter also indicated that Pendergrass would request county funds to construct the project. McDonald said that the Restore the Arches, Inc. group would continue fundraising and donate the funds to the county for project enhancements such as signage and landscaping.

    The Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches, Inc. organization was formed in 2016 and incorporated in the fall of 2017. They have held several fundraisers and coordinated landscaping and repair of the 1924 Tom Phillips Stone Monument at the corner of Main St. and San Carlos Drive. In January 2019 they removed pieces of the original arch from the ground where they had been placed nearly 40 years ago and had them scanned for use in the arch project.