Welcome Back!

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Every day now seasonal residents are making their way back to our Island. We hear there are falling leaves up north and a bit of a chill in the air, which is enough to start the flow of our northern friends back to warmer climes.

Along with this migration, there is a lot of curiosity about what’s happened here on our Island. What are the hot topics? What’s going on with the road?

This week we’ll try to bring them up to speed, so if you’ve been here all summer, go grab a cup of coffee and admire the view.

Estero Blvd.

The entire first segment of Estero Blvd has been finished. There are still a few punch list items being touched up, and that includes the center lane pavers. From Crescent Street to Lovers Lane, you’ll see new pavement, wide sidewalks and excellent drainage. We had a pretty good test with Hurricane Irma and the new road passed with flying colors. Those center lane pavers continue to need attention, even after replacement. The construction team is working with the paver firm to find a solution.

Phase 2 has begun – Lovers Lane to Madera, just south of Publix. Drivers will notice the right-of-way has been cleared and paved to allow two lanes of traffic to flow when they are working on the water lines, the sewer lines or the stormwater system. That stormwater system needs a number of outfalls; some of us call them drains. The outfalls will carry water from Estero Blvd, via pipes to the back bay, collecting stormwater from the side street as it goes. For some inexplicable reason, getting the permits for these outfalls has taken way longer than anyone expected. The permits are coming in now so work has finally begun. Expect the dreaded center lane wall during work on this phase. The height difference requires that, so bring your patience when you head down Estero Blvd.

Phase 3 from Madera to Albatross is even seeing some work. You’ll notice some right-of-ways are being cleared and some sewer line work is being done.

Hurricane Irma

How did you do? Are you ok? Is your house ok? These questions have been how Islanders have greeted each other for over a month now. You’ll notice an almost universal gratitude that the hit we took was not worse. The forecasted 10-15 foot storm surge did not occur thanks to the storm heading inland after it made landfall. So, we are all really lucky. You’ll notice lots of trees down and piles of brown landscape debris at the curb waiting to be hauled away. The Town is working on that with a contractor on the Island daily. Estero Blvd.is owned by the county, but the Town is seeking to remove the debris from Estero, if FEMA agrees. There is plenty of visible and invisible roof damage on the Island. Pool cages suffered. A month post storm, we’re still grateful, still glad we all got to know our neighbors a bit better and struggling to find licensed contractors who can fix roofs, screens and other things in less than 6-9 months.

TPI – Downtown Redevelopment

An application was submitted to the Town in the spring. TPI and their consultants have been working to fine tune that application since and hope to have it ready to bring to a public hearing in front of the LPA in December. The application does not include the old Seafarer’s site, as the county would not participate in any discussions on including it. Meanwhile the county is using the Seafarer’s site to store construction equipment and supplies. Some say in violation of the Town codes. The Town hasn’t seemed very interested in pursuing that.

San Carlos Island Development

Bay Harbour is still in the application process with Lee County. The development at the old Compass Rose Marina location on Main Street has drawn a lot of attention and some resistance. A hearing should be coming up later this fall. A DOT traffic study, which was postponed at councils request earlier this year, is expected to come around again this fall sometime.

Water Quality

The State of Florida finally approved a plan to send water south from Lake Okeechobee, at least some water. A proposed large reservoir on land that could be purchased from unwilling sellers if enough willing sellers didn’t appear, was pared to a medium-sized reservoir composed of land from only willing sellers. Now the plan needs federal approval and money, or maybe not. Last month the Army Corps of Engineers decided they didn’t need Congressional approval to begin planning the reservoir. So, some progress, but the confusion remains. This is a federal, state, South Florida Water Management District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project. What could go wrong?

Hurricane Irma dumped a tremendous amount of rain on the entire state. A good portion of that rain drains into Lake O. And is still draining into Lake O. The Lake is still over 17 feet, up a good 2 feet higher than the Army Corps wants it. The higher the lake level, the more pressure on the Hoover Dike and the greater chance it could fail and flood communities around the lake. As a result all the locks are wide open trying to lower the lake to a safer level. And the only way to drain the lake is to send that water down the St. Lucie River and Caloosahatchee River. That water is brown and blocks light from seagrass that the Estero Bay estuary needs for wildlife. It’s also fresh water, rather than salt water and that messes seriously with our sea life in the river and back bay. While the water is brown, it has been tested and found safe for swimming. The color of the water along our shore is dependent on the tides, currents and winds. If it’s dark where you are, try heading to another beach, like Lover’s Key.

Did we hit the topics you wanted to know about? If we missed any, please let us know.

 

Missy Layfield