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First impressions that last a lifetime

June 27, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Fort Myers Beach has been hearing and talking a lot about what to do with the land of the demolished Seafearer's Mall site.

Seems as if the County has bought the land and plans on a public parking lot to be constructed. The town council seems to have been bamboozled by the county on what to do with the land on "our island." The wonderful world of bureaucrats who decide the fate of the image of "our town" is in full swing.

A year and a half ago, I personally presented the idea to try to beautify the eyesore that is our town's first impression to visitors, day trippers and residents alike as they come over the bridge and unto our family island. I proposed having local island youth create huge running murals painted in themes that are our town's identity. Such as sea turtles, palm trees, the sun, words of encouragement such as FMB KIDS CARE or FMB PRIDE in between the kids art that would hang along the fences that surround the dead zone site of the old mall. It serves as artistic value by covering up an empty, horrid looking, vacant lot. Kids' artistic expression that only celebrates the kids' imaginations through art, while attempting to do our part to make our island look better for the thought of return visitors.

A year and a half has passed and now there is still talk of erecting the murals before our town's July 4th celebration. Bay Oaks Parks and Recreation director Patty Evans has been pushing hard for this to occur on this date. Jo List has personally aided in the progression of this community-based project. Ray Judah and the county seem to be the road blocks set up to make this occur as our reality. The town wants to do it, the kids are ready to do it, the town residents are ready to see it done, and I personally am more than a year and a half later still ready to see this done. I see it as if you want change, then be the change! Waiting for the change only leaves us waiting on the sidelines for the change.

If we are not apart of the solutions then we are guilty of being apart of the problem too. I plead for an answer from our local elected officials of when our voices as Beach residents are to be heard and acted upon for the better of our island image. How can residents of our community act for cause when we are simply being ignored by the same very people that we elected to better our community?

I thank those who have worked hard to see this project come to light, and I also call for everyone to vote out our county commissioners to be replaced with folks who do indeed have our island's best interest in mind. Support Island-based ideas for the better of our town's image, while building self esteem and celebrating artistic expression by our island youth.

The longer we wait and hesitate only means the tourists will plan next year to relocate their vacation destination elsewhere. We are tired of waiting for the answers, as we plan to be the answer!

John G. Heim

FMB local activist



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