Keeping residents and visitors free from danger, risk and/or injury is a full-time endeavor.
The Town of Fort Myers Beach Public Safety Committee forges ahead in its mission of providing a safe island atmosphere for all involved.
Last week, advisory board members addressed the need for additional refuge medians, biking trails, safety brochures and other public education matters, while learning more about the upcoming Estero Boulevard Improvements Project, slated for next fall.
Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons stations are receiving positive public feedback at locations just south of Santini Marina Plaza (in front of Estero Beach & Tennis Club) and adjacent to Holiday Inn.
Currently, Estero Island has two median refuges with Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons installed on the boulevard. One is situated just south of Santini Marina Plaza and the other adjacent to Holiday Inn. Both are at crosswalks to help pedestrians cross the street.
A request for two or three more RRFBs has been made, and six locations are being looked into. Bay Beach Lane (stated 1,200 condo unit residents crossing the street to go beachside) is a leading candidate for a location. Others are at Newton Park/Strandview Avenue, Publix Supermarket, Lani Kai, Crescent Street and mid-island 7-11/Junkanoos.
"We have to be cognizant of driveways at those locations," said Lee County Department of Transportation's Rob Phelan. "At the Estero Cove/ Holiday Inn location, we set that back far enough to provide space in there for vehicles turning left."
Phelan said the County plans on using a trailer-mounted video camera during tourism season to monitor which area would best serve the set-ups. It costs $25,000 for each median refuge/RRFB application.
"The ones we have installed have been just wonderful," said committee member Al Durrett, who manages Santini Marina Plaza and sees pedestrian issues in that area first hand.
The safety committee motioned that an RRFB should be installed at Bay Beach Lane and the other locations will be reviewed until presentation plans come forward.
A designated bike trail from Mound House to Town Hall was also discussed. The proposed trail -one that would include a map and signage along the way- would involve Shell Mound Boulevard as the main access.
Newly published safety brochures have already been disseminated to businesses, condos and various other locations. The committee agreed to print more due to popularity and large distribution levels.
Committee member Rexanne Hosafros will be contacting Beach Elementary Principal Larry Wood to see if brochures could go home with school children. A seminar may possibly be organized to speak to students about safety.
Committee member Jim Wray will also ask the Beach Condo Association if a safety committee member could serve as a guest speaker at one of its meetings.
Committee members will also solicit businesses to see if they would like to carry safety merchandise. T-shirts, wristbands and glow-in-the-dark necklaces are being pushed.
Durrett will speak to fire officials about the possibility of putting a warning system in place for approaching lightning storms to warn beachfront guests that may not know of impending danger related to quick-action storms. The systems are incorporated at golf courses and football fields across Southwest Florida. County officials may also be notified about this matter since Lynn Hall Park and Bowditch Park -two key visitor beach destinations- are County operated and owned.
The upcoming Estero Boulevard Improvements Project will involve concepts presented in the Town of Fort Myers Beach Streetscape Master Plan completed in 2000, information gathered during the 2008 Estero Boulevard Analysis and Design and a right-of-way study. Once complete, the road is expected to have three driving lanes during a majority of the six-mile stretch as well as bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides. Shared bike lanes -that will sport bicycle markings within the driving lane- are being planned in the tighter, 50-foot Core and Civic Complex sections.
Design plans for the section between Crescent Street to Matanzas Bridge are being kept under hat until expected further development happens in the Seafarer's area.
"We feel that development is going to come into that area. I think it would be a good opportunity to work with whoever develops that area to try to enhance Crescent to the bridge," said Councilman Joe Kosinski, liaison to the committee. "We would like to leave that until almost very last until we get more definitive plans."