I always have and will always work only for the best interest of the people of Fort Myers Beach.
Issues face the Town Council such as Seafarers open lot, the Crescent Beach Family Park, how it interacts with Estero Boulevard and our traffic problems.
The County wants to make Seafarers a parking lot. That is because it was purchased with TDC money and that was the agreement with the TDC to get the funds. It is a land-locked parcel owned by the County with no entrance from the street. So here is the Counties' grand plan. As you come over the bridge, turn right towards North Estero, turn right on Old San Carlos, turn right on third street, turn right on Crescent, turn right on fifth street and turn left into a 40-car parking lot that may or may not be full. I hope they're giving out GPS systems as you go over the bridge. That is great forward thinking plan that took over a year to come up with! Really! That is it! Really!
What we need is for the County, the Town and the owners of that block to work together with prospective developers, to work in a Public-Private venture to develop that area to best use as it helps traffic and best use of the land for the benefit of Fort Myers Beach. My charge to the County is lead with the Town as a full partner or get out of the way! The Town asked the County for help in purchasing both the Seafarer property and the park area, but instead the County by-passed us and took it for themselves.
Don't you think the County owns too much of Fort Myers Beach's prime land as it is?
We asked to have the flagpole dedicated to Carlton Ryffel in Crescent Beach Family Park for all he did for our Town. The County did not do it. Don't you think Carlton deserved that? We asked for the sunshades in the park, and they decided with no input from the town, as to what should go there. They decided that they knew better than the Town.
Regarding the direct trolley lane from Summerlin Square Park & Ride to the beach, just think how many cars it would take off Estero Boulevard if they came by trolley instead. The Town has been working for years trying to do this. The County has had very little leadership on that. While LeeTran and FDOT does studies, no one does anything to make it happen. Why is the County not in the lead, working with the state and Town to make this happen? When government does not want it to happen, they have another study! How many studies do we need?
The Right of Way survey has been completed for over a year. Nothing has been done to resolve the right of way problems. What is the County waiting for? We cannot do anything on Estero Boulevard until the right of way problems are corrected. That survey was paid for by both the County and the Town with gas tax money. We have only been waiting for over 20 years to fix Estero Blvd.
On the Estero Boulevard revamp, we have only waited for decades for this. It may be completed within the next 10 years. The County has $750,000 for studies now and as a "first" $7 million in the 2013/2014 CIP for the first mile. Just look at North Estero, we did that mile in under $4 million with all the bells and whistles. Lets take some of that "baseball money" and fix the road that our visitors use, that gives us that TDC money they used for baseball. Baseball is here a few weeks a year but the beach keeps giving all year long.
On Beach re-nourishment, look at the beautiful beach at the north end of the island. We should have the whole island looking like that. How was that accomplished? It was done because the County wanted it. It was to protect the County properties. How about the other properties on Fort Myers Beach? Aren't they just as deserving? One of the biggest problems the last time was the easement issue. Notice the County had a new easement, a construction easement that was less invasive. It was their properties! We should look again, on protecting the other properties on our island.
On Bay Oaks, we were paying about $300,000 per year into Bay Oaks every year when the County owned it. Next year we will be over $1 million. That is Fort Myers Beach tax dollars! The County told us we had to take it over or it was going to be shut down. We really need to look at fees and programs for on-island members and off-island members. Maybe the County should now give us a subsidy for unincorporated Lee County members who us it, same as what we did for them.
Fort Myers Beach founders had the right idea. Town Council has a max of two three-year terms, and then you must be off for one cycle. I believe in term limits, No matter how good any Councilman may be, we need fresh thinking and fresh ideas. The same should be with the County. The County should have term limits and single districts. Single districts give the small town such as ours more clout and representation, If every one on the island voted, we would have less than 7,000 votes. The Cape alone has over 100,000 votes. Who do you think has the bigger bang! If it were you, whom would you like to keep happy the most? If you are that good, that you have to stay in office, you should want to share it with the state as a Senator or Representative.You should ask your County Commissioner, WHY?
I am sorry if I have offended anyone but I have waited four years to write this, not my favorite thing to do. I thank you for giving me the privilege of representing you. As usual, if I can be of assistance, please call or email me at 765-0202 (ext. 124) or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Bob Raymond
Raymond is Vice Mayor of the Town of Fort Myers Beach.