Historic Committee Wants You
The Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC) for the Town of Fort Myers Beach is on a mission, even having a list of properties that may qualify to be recognized by the Town as historic. No fee is involved and, with Town recognition, there is no limitation on future renovations.
The HPAC earlier this year assembled an inventory of the “Top 50” historic properties on Fort Myers Beach built between the years 1921 to 1950, and wants to speak to those home and property owners to get those sites recognized as Historic Structures by the Town, complete with a plaque to display on the outside of the building for all to see. The Town recognizes this program in its Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code, with homeowners eligible to apply under one of four Categories of Historic Importance (CHI), with the HPAC making the final classification. These are:
Historic Designation (CHI1): Historic or archaeological resource that meets the required standards for County, State, or National registration.
Historic Recognition (CHI2): Resource meets the highest criteria of importance to the cultural, religious, educational, commercial, and tourism historical development or archaeological resources to the Town.
Historic Significance (CHI3): Resource that on an individual basis does not constitute a significant site, but contributes to the overall significance of a district.
Historic Interest (CHI4): Areas or vistas that offer insight to the understanding of the history of the Town, the lifestyle of its inhabitants, or the historic use of its natural resources and trends to its development.
When filling out the applications that are available on the Town website, the property owners will provide information under the following categories: age of the structure; location and setting; function of original and present use; architectural style; materials and workmanship; archaeological resources; photographs, maps, and narrative description; along with contact information and address.
Sites of Historic Importance
The HPAC is seeking to contact and speak with owners of the following potential “Sites of Historic Importance” for inclusion on the Town’s Historic Designation Program, under the year the structure was built and address:
1921: 3502 Estero Boulevard; 3320 Estero Boulevard
1925: 140 Primo Drive
1926: 2704/2706 Estero Boulevard
1928: 2686 Estero Boulevard
1935: 3107 Estero Boulevard; 460 Palermo Circle; 501 Palermo Circle
1936: 116 Miramar Street
1937: 73 Alva Street; 1550 I Street; 1480 I Street; 162 Primo Drive
1939: 191 Aberdeen Avenue; 71 Avenue E; 124 Pearl Street; 125 Pearl Street; 124 Primo Drive
1940: 221 Canal Street; 2430 Cottage Avenue; 253 Cottage Avenue; 2101 Estero Boulevard; 1750 Estero Boulevard; 205 Pearl Street; 61 Miramar Street
1941: 108 Crescent Street; 298 Ohio Avenue
1945: 150 Primo Drive; 180 Primo Drive
1946: 180 Pearl Street; 214/216 Pearl Street
1947: 270 Miramar Street; 201 Palermo Circle
1948: 241 Fairweather Lane; 251/253 Ohio Avenue; 2878 Seaview Street
1949: 71 Pearl Street
1950: 50 Aberdeen Avenue; 265 Carolina Avenue; 1901 Estero Boulevard; 4360 Estero Boulevard; 4330 Estero Boulevard; 160 Mango Street; 259 Ohio Avenue; 191 Primo Drive
“This is not a comprehensive list of all of the Town’s historic structures during this 30-year time period,” said Scott Safford, the HPAC Chair at its meeting on Tuesday morning, March 26, in Town Hall, “but is merely intended as a starting point to assist the committee in reaching out to the owners to gauge their interest in filling out the application of Historic Importance.” The committee also plans to send letters to the owners of the Top 50 properties. Joining Safford at the HPAC meeting were Board members Susan Dzyacky, Patrick McKeown, Betty Simpson and Lorrie Wolf.
Under “Historic Importance Rally,” Simpson and Wolf stated that they recently made a brief presentation about the “Top 50 List” at the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club, “to begin to get the word out,” explained Simpson, “should anyone there either own one of the homes that might qualify or have a friend who does. We wanted to clarify some of the misconceptions about the program, as some people think, for instance, there is a fee to apply and there is not! It was more of a clarification-type of presentation, as well as making them aware of the property addresses, so we can begin to move forward.”
Safford agreed about community misconceptions, saying “we have to work hard to get the correct word out, as many people believe if they get this historic recognition for their home, they can no longer do any renovations or improvements, and that is simply not true. That is why I call your presentation the ‘Betty & Lorrie Disinformation Tour!’”
April 8 Information Session
Safford stated that the next public opportunity to speak with these prospective homeowners about the “Historic Recognition Program” will be on Monday, April 8, at the Fort Myers Beach Public Library. “That is the evening of the final 2019 Estero Island Historic Society (EIHS) Lecture Series, with Elliot Kleinberg discussing ‘Florida in The Civil War? Believe It!’ They tell me this will be a super interesting program and that they anticipate a good turnout. It starts at 7 p.m., so they suggest we arrive by 6:30 and set up our information table. We are inviting everyone on our ‘Top 50 List’ to attend that evening and speak to us about the ‘Historic Designation Program’ process, and the EIHS will allow us a few minutes before the lecture to discuss with the audience what we are attempting to do.”
He hopes as well “that a Fort Myers Beach Public Library staff member can join us, to explain how prospective applicants can begin to do their necessary research at the Library.” Dzyacky favors a more in-depth explanation, “to look up additional informational outlets and places outside of the Library, to secure details about their property, such as the Lee County Clerk’s Office and several other places in Fort Myers, like title companies and realtors. The more information you have about your property, the more it helps our committee in making our decision.” Safford concurred, stating that “realtors are really good at looking up the history of a property, perhaps not as far back in time as we need, but they are an excellent resource to start the process.”
Once a prospective applicant submits their paperwork, the HPAC reviews it and if they find it meets the criteria, they move it forward to the Local Planning Agency/Historic Preservation Board, then on to Town Council for the final approval. Council then schedules the “Historical Designation Recognition” for a meeting date mutually agreeable to the property owner, to present them with the appropriate “Historical Designation Plaque.”
Safford stated that “we are in the process of setting up our Facebook page at ‘Fort Myers Beach Historical Preservation Advisory Committee’ and there will be a link with information about our committee and the process on the Town website.” If you are ready to begin the “Historical Designation Program,” you can fill out the application on-line or contact Patty Prevost at Town Hall at 239-765-0202. There are 2 openings on the 7-person HPAC volunteer board; to you would like to apply, fill out the application online at www.fmbgov.com or contact Town Clerk Michelle Mayher at 239-765-0202, extension #1400.
“I really think we are on the way to getting this moving in the right direction, to get this done,” concluded Wolf! The HPAC will hold its next meeting Tuesday, April 23, in Council Chambers at 9 a.m.
By Gary Mooney