The heart of Fort Myers Beach will be getting a surface restoration, but the question is when, how and to what extent. Professional analysis and assessment to look into the area's underground infrastructure will factor into the timeline and scope of work.
During a Tuesday afternoon workshop, Town officials discussed various rehabilitation activities at Times Square in the downtown area of Estero Island, including the replacement of the aged paver surface that has been budgeted for this current fiscal year.
Surface work will be held off until officials know what type of underground work needs to be done. Then there is the issue involving the time of year and day that work should be done. Offseason work has deterrents such as rain, storms and light restrictions due to sea turtle season.
Surface work in the Times Square area is scheduled this year.
"We are very strongly looking at overnight work," said Town Manager Terry Stewart. "This is going to require us to sit down with business and property owners and help them understand what has to be done and why before we move forward. We are well aware of the sensitivities."
County staff placed the original infrastructure and pavers in the island's northern end "walking district" more than 17 years. The paver base is starting to give way, which is noticeable after larger equipment vehicles pass through.
"They have been difficult to maintain form the time they were installed because they weren't the right type of pavers to begin with," said Town Public Works Director Cathie Lewis. "That area is dramatically influenced by the tide. The water flushes in there and it flushes out. We are noticing over time (the wear and tear on the base). We are pulling sections of the pavers out monthly to reestablish them."
There are water lines, fire lines and other utilities under the paver structure, which used to be pavement and part of Estero Boulevard many years ago.
Work is expected to take up to six months. Preliminary plans are to do the work in two segments with one beginning in the spring (April, May, June) and the second in the fall (October, November and December).
"That does add cost with mobilization, but I think that is likely the most realistic approach," said Lewis.
Other considered improvements is adding a gazebo-type of structure to replace the temporary staging within Times Square and provide a more permanent cover for entertainers during the weekly Sunset Celebrations and other events.
Lewis stated her initial thought on the cost of the Times Square rehabilitation is estimated to be $1 million ($725,000 for water line and storm water reconstruction; $200,000 for paver work; $40,000 for gazebo-type structure). That estimate includes planning and engineering through to construction.
Cost could go up if the underground infrastructure needs to be replaced or moved to another location.
"This is something that is significant, and you need to be aware of it," said Stewart to the council members. "This also could generate a significant amount of consternation and concern on the part of the property owners."
Council gave Stewart consensus to move forward with the initial interactions and agreements to get work started. In February or March, it will be brought in front of Council for official approval.