Merchants Ask for Relief
Times Square area merchants have banded together to plead with Lee County Commissioners to open beach accesses that will allow visitors to access the beach and Times Square easily. As reported last week (“Lynn Hall Beach Access Work to be Complete in April,” Island Sand Paper, February 21, 2020), the project to rebuild four beach access points at Lee County’s Lynn Hall Memorial Park has closed three of four access points, leaving only one open, Access A, at the far north end of the park. Without clear signage, visitors struggle to find their way to the beach. Once on the beach, finding their way to Times Square is difficult with only one access point at the furthest north end of Lynn Hall Park and then a long hike the length of the park to Times Square. On Monday, February 24, ten local businesses under the umbrella of the Times Square Merchants Association, signed the letter below to the Board of County Commissioners, asking for relief from current conditions caused by the construction.
Times Square Merchants Association
C/o Dave Eichen
22 Palmview Blvd.
Fort Myers Beach, FL. 33931
February 24, 2020
Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)
2120 Main St.
Fort Myers, FL. 33901
Dear Commissioners and Lynn Hall Park Project Manager:
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Times Square Merchants Association and the other area businesses and property owners listed below.
While we understand the necessity of the ongoing project to construct a dune walkover, we have some serious concerns regarding the safety, timing, and accessibility to Times Square during this project. Further, communication to area businesses, property owners and residents has been virtually non-existent. Most, if not all of the information that we have been able to ascertain has come from local news sources versus coming from your offices or from project developers. As tax payers and Lee County residents, a committee should have been formed and we should have been consulted prior to the commencement of any construction that directly impacts our businesses and properties.
We understand “turtle season” and other environmental issues, but “season” which constitutes January, February, March, and April is critical to our businesses. Without these months, many of us would not survive. To a large degree, you have taken these months away from us by choosing to do this project during this time of the year and by essentially blocking access to our stores. As you must know, Lynn Hall Park and Times Square are “Ground Zero” for tourism and beach destinations in Lee County.
Since the project is well underway, it is too late for meetings and consultations, but we do emphatically implore you to immediately consider the following critical concerns.
1. Access to our businesses. Fox 4 reported on December 12, 2019 that “the project will not interfere with public access to the beach”. The project indeed started out that way, but has evolved into blocking 3 out of the 4 of the accesses to the area as reported by the Island Sand Paper on February 21, 2020. As of last night, this was still the case (see attached pictures). The loss of business is exacerbated by these excessive blockages. Please immediately address this critical issue and keep all 4 (or as many as possible) of theses accesses open.
2. Safety. Since easy access to Times Square and other neighboring areas is blocked, many bold guests have resorted to cutting through the project and/or jumping the silt fences that have been erected. As you can imagine, this is a serious safety concern and needs to be addressed.
3. Expedite the project. We beg you to figure out a way to speed up the project. Put more crews on so that we can get this thing done so that perhaps we can enjoy a few weeks of normal business before the season ends.
We know that it is not the intent of Lee County or its officials to damage businesses in the county and on Fort Myers Beach and we do understand the necessity of the project. It is not too late to lesson the impact if we work together to immediately arrive at some solutions and compromises.
Dave Eichen, Dairy Queen
John Lallo, Pete’s Time Out
Greg Wulff, Kilwin’s
Steve Maillakakis, Plaka’s
Steve Lisay, Holiday Court Villas & Suites
Jason Ingream, Mango Rita’s
Mayor, Anita Cereceda, Local Color and Pier Peddler
Thomas Houghton, LaOla
Martin York, Pierside Grill
William Whitaker, commercial property owner