The long, arduous Town of Fort Myers Beach project at 451 Connecticut St. is facing a "ghost" of a chance in being completed in the next few weeks.
The Mound House restoration project will bleed well into the new year, according to discussions from Town officials and the Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board, the committee that oversees the property.
There are now claims it may take until near the end of 2013 for it to be open and fully running. That scenerio doesn't settle well with Beach Mayor Bob Raymond.
BOB PETCHER (JUMP PHOTO)
Projects to complete the Mound House restoration have been slow and arduous, not to the liking of the Beach mayor.
"I just can't see why it takes so darn long to do anything. We've been waiting for months and months and months. We're dragging this thing on," he said. 'It's like taking one step forward and six steps backwards."
After Council rejected the only three high price bids that came in for the interior restoration of the house itself and other property aspects, Town Public Works Director Cathie Lewis and Town Attorney Mariln Miller are looking at different methodology before seeking more submittals with another bid request.
"We are reevaluating some of the construction costs associated with the project. Because of the holidays, I think we will have better success to put the bids out after the first of the year," said Lewis.
"It's unfortunate we have run into these problems. I called a couple of potential contractors who decided not to bid to try to find our why they didn't bid," said Miller. "We have some ideas how to better structure the big document."
Town Manager Terry Stewart did report one of the previously missing artifacts that was though to be taken has been located. An example of a Calusa Indian bowl was at a state agency.
"The appropriate paperwork that was necessary to transfer that artifact to that location was never filled out. We are in the process of filling out the appropriate paperwork necessary to be able to retrieve the article that has been preserved," he said.
A parking lot contract with Beach Baptist officials to have parking rights at the church at the corner of Connecticut Street and Estero Boulevard is close to being finalized. A six-person golf cart to transfer those who park there to Mound House is also close to being obtained.
"We expect to have it here in the next 30 years," said Stewart.
Luck has not been on the side of the project coordinators and overseers. The recently finished mural inside the underground exhibit was unfortunately scratched by electricians while they worked on the lighting in the exhibit. At the cost of the electricians, the mural artist, fabricator and/or manufacturer will fix the problem. Those officials will also inform the Town how best to protect the mural with a protective lamination cover.
At CELCAB's monthly meeting last Thursday, committee members jokingly referred to project problems as being the work of the property "ghost." Other than the mural mishap and lighting problems there, the exhibit's DVD with synchronized lighting effects was recently received blank without the audio or visual information.
While that problem is being looked into, Town Parks & Recreation Director Patty Evans reported construction on the delayed kayak storage shed should begin very soon.
"The reason was that the (kayak shed) contractor wanted to use some materials that were not pre-approved for the construction. They have been negotiating with (Lewis) on this," she said.
According to Town records, below are some projected completion dates for the following items as of Nov. 21:
n interpretive signage development Jan. 1, 2013
n observation deck/fishing pier June 15, 2013
n kayak storage shed Jan. 1, 2013
n house interior restoration April 30, 2013
n implementation of house exhibits Dec. 31, 2013
The interior of Mound House includes a gift shop on the first floor and exhibit galleries and research room on the second floor. Those will include fabrication/installation of interpretive exhibits in gallery including wall panels, free standing kiosks, reading rails, artifact cases, tactile puzzles, audio components and a contemporary history photo archive interactive in research space.
Council makes committee appointments
Two members of the Fort Myers Beach community have been added to Town advisory committees.
David Zimmerman has joined the Public Safety Committee. He joins five other members of the seven-member board.
The Public Safety Committee is the latest addition of the Town committees. Adopted on Aug 20, 2012, it addresses safety and transportaion issues specifically assigned by Council for the purpose of health, safety and welfare of the citizens and visitors to the Beach.
In his application letter, Zimmerman stated his interest in pedestrian safety awareness grew when his five-year-old granddaughter passed in a tragic accident. He will begin serving a two-year term for the committee. He joins Tom Myers, Toni Scolaro, Bruce Butcher, Al Durrett and Barbara Mezeske.
Keri Hendry Wegg has joined the Marine Resources Task Force. She joins only one other member of the seven-member board.
MRTF promotes stewardship of the island's marine resources by helping in rehabilitating Estero Bay and its surrounding waters, including all wildlife, plant life, and air and water quality.
In her application letter, Hendry Wegg expressed an interest in protecting the water quality and natural resources and stated she is familiar with the island's unique ecosystem. She said she would like to continue to serve on the Community Resources Advisory Board.
Hendry Wegg joins John Bennett on the board.
Councilman asks to "open up" committees
Beach Councilman Dan Andre made two suggestions regarding participation on Town's advisory boards, particularly the Marine Resources Task Force, which had to disband due to insufficient participation.
Andre would like to expand the area to the full 33931 zone rather than just residents of Beach proper. That would allow more volunteers to become active in committees.
"The second suggestion would be to change the name and the scope to more of an environmental advisory committee. I think that would attract more attention and be more specific than a marine resources task force," he said.
The suggestions will be scheduled as an agenda item on Monday, Jan. 7.