Thanksgiving Week Editorial

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Thankful

One of the things we’ve been most thankful for this past week was the end of the one-way traffic and flaggers on Estero. Did you notice how much having two lanes everywhere helped traffic to flow? We’ve survived what was predicted to be the most difficult part of the project, the one lane era in the narrowest part of the Estero right of way – downtown. At one point, with FPL pole-replacement and Estero Blvd projects, there were three different one-way traffic stretches to navigate. Glad that’s over. While the roadwork may occasionally call for brief one-lane stretches as the waterline and road projects continue, it will be rare and brief. And for that we are all thankful!

There will always be traffic gridlock on Estero Blvd and this holiday weekend will no doubt see some of that. But let’s not blame that on the Estero Blvd projects because it was the same last Thanksgiving weekend and for years before that. The fact is when we hit a certain population point on the island, which we do for holidays and season, we have more cars than Estero Blvd can handle and gridlock results. For those who are unfamiliar with the road project – the end result from Lovers Lane to Time Square will be two lanes plus a center turn lane and wide sidewalks. There is not enough right of way to create more lanes.

Savvy Islanders have found ways to ease our gridlock and every driver can help. If you are stopped in traffic, do not tailgate; leave space for left turning traffic. Do not block roads and driveways. Be alert for emergency vehicles and move out of the way if possible. Let drivers pull onto Estero Blvd. Walk or bike to your destination if possible. Watch for pedestrians. Remember that many of those driving and walking are not familiar with our Island and aren’t sure where they’re heading. When you get behind the wheel, pack a whole lot of patience and we’ll all be happier and safer.

Island Development

On Monday, November 30, 2015, Islanders will get their first look at the proposed downtown redevelopment that has been percolating for months. We’ve all waited for about 6 weeks for the County Commission and Town Council to find a mutually agreeable date to meet for the developers’ presentation. That date is Monday from 1-4pm and the place is Florida SouthWestern College Nursing Building. This meeting has been publicized for several weeks. It looks like those who aren’t able to attend will be able to watch the meeting online at www.fsw.edu/livestream There are more meetings planned on Fort Myers Beach to see the plans and comment with the first one in mid-December. Stay tuned for details.

A recent meeting on San Carlos Island for the Bay Harbour Marina Village development was handled a little bit differently. If that development is approved and built, it will effect most of San Carlos Island and Fort Myers Beach, yet plans for that meeting were not exactly broadcast far and wide. When meetings are required, they must be published in the newspaper of record for the area. Unfortunately, the state dictates that is the local daily, whether it’s read by the community or not. If a notice was published, the vast majority of area residents were unaware of it and relied upon that old Island staple, the Coconut Telegraph.

With development ramping up – two large projects on San Carlos Island and our downtown project, it’s important that elected officials and developers communicate with residents early and often about planned meetings. Otherwise it looks like there’s something to hide. Change is controversial enough, don’t make it worse by operating in the shadows.

Changes

Speaking of changes, we are happy to announce some improvements at the Island Sand Paper! We have a brand new website that makes viewing our articles online easier than ever. Head to fortmyersbeach.news and take a look around. Readers can still read or download the entire paper online, but individual articles can be now be found easily from the main page and the new website automatically adjusts to whatever device you are using to view it. Plus, access to the entire paper is now free!

The online logo has a new look also, to distinguish it from our other media products, The Island Sand Paper and SAND LIFE Entertainment Magazine. You’ll be able to find both of those on the website, so wander on over and get to know the best place to stay in touch with Fort Myers Beach news!

In this issue, readers will find a new page of puzzles and comics. Readers have been asking for more puzzles, so we hope you like our new selection.

The Island Sand Paper has always been about bringing our readers in-depth coverage of Fort Myers Beach news. That has not changed. In this issue, you’ll find a look at how the Town spent $25,000 for a consultant to work on our behalf to lessen the impact of planes that fly over the Island. There’s also a story about the lawsuit brought against the Fire District by a former Fire Chief and one about FPL’s error in collecting more than $450,000 from Island residents in a public utility tax for the Town. The proposed Bay Harbour Marina Village meeting report can also be found only in our paper. Our lead story this Thanksgiving weekend is about the Beach School and our Island kids. Readers will not find those stories anywhere else.

We cover Fort Myers Beach and the stories that are important to Islanders. That’s who we are. That’s what we do.

Bob and Missy Layfield