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Businesses unite to monitor Grand Resorts

January 27, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A group of businesses concerned about Grand Resorts and whether or not it will receive special treatment have not only united, it has hired a public relations firm and created a logo.

Calling itself VOICE of FMB, the group is represented by an executive team of 15 "stakeholders," according to Connie Ramos-Williams of Fort Myers-based Conric P.R. and Marketing, who serves as the group's spokeswoman. Among the businesses are some of Fort Myers Beach's most prominent, including DiamondHead Resort, the Best Western, the Edison House and the Pink Shell.

"These business people are busy running their own businesses but still want to stay informed," Ramos-Williams said. "By uniting together, they now have an outlet to voice an opinion, whether they are for it (Grand Resorts) or not. It's an informal group."

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Ramos-Williams said she'll keep them informed by attending government and Grand Resort meetings and scheduling telephone conferences to share information. The group also has a website ( and a Facebook page, which shows nearly 550 "likes" in just one month's time.

The group will also present opinions to the Fort Myers Beach Town Council as it deems fit, Ramos-Williams said.

Among the issues the group is monitiring, she said, are the ramifications of the seawall, the overall size and density of the project at the entrance to the beach, lack of up-to-date traffic studies to show the true impact of this project on traffic flow, cost of the project to taxpayers, and the uncertain future of Crescent Beach.

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Another concern is how Town Council will go about handling requests for approvals and permits for the proposed development.

"The proposed plan does not adhere to the town of Fort Myers Beach's current comprehensive plan, so many wonder how Grand Resorts has even gotten this far along in the process in the first place," Ramos-Williams said in a prepared statement.

She points to a situation once faced by the Best Western.

"After Hurricane Charley (in 2004), FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) offered Best Western Fort Myers Beach a grant of $630,000 to renovate the resort and relocate everything from the ground floor to a newly constructed sixth floor," she said. "It lost the FEMA grant when Town Council enforced the comprehensive plan's height restriction, preventing owners from building the sixth floor."

At the time, the decision did not sit well with Paul Malbon, co-owner of the Best Western.

"My expectation is for Town Council to continue to enforce these same set of rules with Grand Resorts and any future development," he said in a statement. "Suddenly bending or updating the rules to accommodate the desires of Grand Resorts is simply not acceptable."

Overall, the group advocates for responsible preservation and development of Fort Myers Beach. Ramos-Williams said.

"Although that may sound like an oxymoron to some, the group welcomes new development but wants to make sure future development is held to the same set of rules and comprehensive plan that the town has enforced over the years to preserve the architecture and integrity of the small island beach town," she said.



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