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Council to transfer park restrooms to County

April 17, 2013
By BOB PETCHER (rpetcher@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Two portable restroom units that are currently on loan and in use at Crescent Beach Family Park could have new ownership in the near future.

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council approved the authorization of Mayor Alan Mandel to execute a letter offering to transfer ownership of the mobile public facilities from the Town of Fort Myers Beach to Lee County, specifically Lee County Parks & Recreation. The bill of sale was reported to be $54,670.

The current Town property on County land is a concern to Town Manager Terry Stewart due to liability reasons.

Article Photos

BOB PETCHER
A child exits one of the two portable restrooms at Crescent Beach Family Park.

"It has our insignia on them. Therefore, without an agreement with them, we are kind of in a jackpot of a liability basis," he said. "If something were to happen in (one of the restrooms) and someone wanted to sue, it would come back on us."

There has been previous discussion on the matter between Town staff and Lee Parks officials. The transfer is subject to a formal acceptance by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners.

Back in June 2010, the Council agreed on the purchase and installation of three mobile-type restroom facilities. Lee County Tourist Development Council dollars funded the units.

The original intention for the restrooms -plus a fourth that was used at Newton Park while the property's building was being reconstructed- was to install them at Palm Avenue, Connecticut Street, Dakota Street and Aberdeen Avenue beach accesses to help provide accommodations at approximately one-mile intervals for the seven-mile-long island. Public restrooms were already situated at Bowditch Point Park, Lynn Hall Park and Newton Park.

But, after Council gave staff its approval on the proposed sites and Town officials notified owners of properties abutting the affected beach accesses, many Beach residents and legal representatives expressed their concerns during public input at a mid-November 2010 meeting. Concerns centered on the disfavor of having bathroom facilities next to residential properties or on residential beach accesses in general.

"We had a public outcry," Stewart reminded council members.

Town officials decided to seek more information and reevaluate the situation, and the issue was brought up again at a December 2010 workshop, where new proposed sites were mentioned.

One of the mobile facilities -an ADA accessible unit- was installed at the beach access at Palm Avenue (beach access #30; north of Diamondhead Beach Resort). Stewart said it has been well received there. Another has been temporarily situated at Pompano Street (across from the Beach Library), where it remains unhooked as Town officials seek input and feedback from neighboring residents before it comes before Council as an issue of proposed installation there. The other two were placed at the county-owned park at the foot of Matanzas Bridge. County staff maintains those latter facilities.

Before this action, Town officials tried to craft an agreement with County officials involving the responsibility of repairs and maintenance falling on County shoulders for the latter two.

"For some reason, the County attorneys' office or operations there could not find any language that they felt comfortable with to make that work," said Stewart. "So, the County eventually came to us, along with representation from TDC, and asked us to donate these units to the County. I don't think the Town is losing out in any significance here."

There are hopes County TDC money may purchase two more of the facilities in the future when the Town shows a need and a designated placement for them. The Town's Community Resources Advisory Board may look at proposed sites.

While unanimous approval was given for the transfer letter, there is still some animosity toward County allowances to the Beach as a community.

"We go out every year and beg, beg, beg for some measly one percent of what we generate from the TDC, and there is no guarantee that they will give us an equivalent of these two facilities," said Councilwoman Jo List, who was backed by Councilman Bob Raymond on the subject.

Extension given to Santini plaza re-entry passes

With hurricane season beginning in June, the Town of Fort Myers Beach has been registering residents and business owners for re-entry passes since March 28. People have been able to apply for those passes at Town Hall on Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 to 11 a.m. and also within the Town's Emergency Communications Trailer at Santini Marina Plaza on Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon.

This past Monday was supposed to be the final day for the trailer at the island's south end, but Town manager Terry Stewart asked his staff to extend it one more week.

"We had so many folks show up today, that 15 or 20 of them got into their cars and drove to Town Hall because of such a long line," he said.

Applications can be found at these above-stated locations (bring 2012 tags or re-entry pass numbers and photo ID, proof of residency, or one of the following for owner or tenant: utility bill, P.M. license, lease, deed/tax bill, occupational license, business tax bill, company letter or pay stub) or online at www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov by clicking "For Islanders" then "Emergency Preparedness/Operations" where you will see the re-entry pass information.

Call Town Hall at 765-0202 (ext. 103) for more information.

 
 

 

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