Council Frustrated Over Progress of Unsafe Structures

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On Monday, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council voiced frustration with town staff over the progress to demolish unsafe structures on the island. For several months the council has been told that building inspector Joe Specht would be red-tagging unsafe structures. To date, he hasn’t red-tagged any.

Several months ago the Town Council was told getting Specht out into the field to red-tag the structures would speed up the process to get the unsafe structures taken care of. It was back in February when Operations Manager Frankie Kropacek reported to the council that there were 52 unsafe structures on Fort Myers Beach. And, that the town was working through the process of getting those structures taken down, one way or the other. On Monday, Kropacek reported that not a single structure has been red-tagged as of yet.

Mayor Dan Allers said he’s a little frustrated. “We were told the same thing three months ago. It appears like we are doing nothing. We’ve given clear direction. When are those buildings going to come down?”

Residents who’ve cleaned up their lots, demo’d their structure, and have begun the process of rebuilding are starting to voice their frustration with Town Council members about those property owners ignoring their mess.

The town was expected to put out a Request For Proposals for a contractor to demolish the structures. The plan was for the town to first engage the property owners, which they
did by letter in late 2023. It was believed the plan would then be for the town to take action against the property owners that were not making any effort to make their property safe and clean it up. The Town Council was told buildings would start coming down this month.

It was not totally clear why the process has stalled. It could just be there are too many balls in the air trying to rebuild a town after a Category 5 Hurricane with no rule book. There seemed to be a hint that perhaps town staff is not 100% sure how quickly they can legally tear down structures. That doesn’t really explain why no structures have been red-tagged. There are many unsafe structures on Estero Boulevard alone that are obvious.

Allers asked the question, “When are we going to get to a point where we say your building is coming down, like it or not?” He even asked Kropacek if the town needed to hire another building official to get this moving. Kropacek said another hire was not needed.

Kropacek then said Specht has made some progress the last two weeks and is putting together his own list of unsafe structures and once that list is complete staff will work with legal council to write a letter to the property owners and “those properties will come down.” Mayor Allers said he was under the impression that part of the process started several months ago, not two weeks ago.

Town Manager Andy Hyatt told the council, “We will make a better effort to get these underway.”

If the town must knock down an unsafe or abandoned structure a lien will then be put on the property to attempt to recoup the money it cost town taxpayers to knock the structure down. An additional step could be for the town to foreclose on the property.

23 COMMENTS

  1. Weak leadership. Frankie is a JOKE AND NEEDS TO BE FIRED. ANDY IS WEAK. HE WAS SQUIRMING IN HIS SEAT WHEN THIS WAS DISCUSSED AND PASSED THE BUCK TO FRANKIE WHO DROPPED THE BALL AS USUAL!! We went from bad to WORSE town leadership!!

  2. Why is the CHIEF EXECUTIVE of the city merely ASKING that things be done, instead of mandating they be done and then making the appropriate hiring/firing decisions instead of ASKING Kropacek if the town needs to hire another building official to get this moving instead of TELLING him to do so. Sounds like a weak mayor to me.

    • The Mayor is clueless. He’s bought and paid for by the businesses on the island. Why does he have 15 golf carts at margaritaville? Why does he have 2 vehicle parking spaces at the Tike Bar and Diamond head and soon his golf carts will be at the pink shell and the arches that I’m sure he will approve. How can he ever say no to any of these business owners and risk losing his “business opportunity”. Huge conflict of interest. He does what’s best for him, not the town. He doesn’t own a home on the island, he rents, so what’s he got to lose?

        • Ditto – complete joke the mayor and his suddenly new Golf cart business with Pink Shell and Margaritaville Contracts propping up a non existent business all last offseason.
          He should resign.
          Town has plenty of other priorities and stuff they can clean up before they go after homeowners without solid due process. The blocks around The new town hall site are a dangerous disgrace (All Commercial)

  3. Ed, any luck getting Mr. Kropacek to release the address on the 52 homes the Town has deemed unsafe? We all know FEMA is not transparent not sure why our own Town refuses to be transparent.

  4. Whatever delays & oversights happened are all in the past. Moving forward, demo of unsafe structures needs to be a priority. Clean-up of empty lots should be done by the Town on a regular schedule. Tax payers should be served by the town government in an effective, cost efficient manner. The only reason government exists is to do the things that aren’t practical for citizens to do themselves.
    It’s time to get organized FMB.

  5. Really, another letter? Obviously, these letters and the threats are not being taken seriously. They Wyndham is arguably one of the biggest most dangerous eyesores. No demo permit has been pulled since the fall letter.

  6. The post-Ian municipality world is totally different than before Ian. Maybe it’s time for the Town to look into a consulting firm to help prioritize and manage projects, organize and streamline processes, etc. This is no criticism of the Town Council’s experience or qualifications, this is an environment no one was prepared to handle. Please get some qualified help.

  7. Could you please ask the Vice Mayor at your Sunday interview about the Wyndham property- why has it not been cleaned up or demolished? It is the biggest eyesore and not even fenced off. Who owns it currently?

    • I couldn’t agree more. We are very frustrated that this has been allowed to just be sit in such disrepair and we have to look at every day.

  8. So sick of the lack of action by the town. All the overgrown, debris filled lots, derelict houses, etc. Derelict lots were addressed before the storm, why not now?? Like Mark said….what are the other cities that have gone through this doing to combat this issue? Swallow your pride and ASK FOR HELP!!! Then do it!! And how does the TC not know what is going on? They run the show. This shows there is a major disconnect going on that needs to be fixed!

  9. On another note, can the London Bay black advertising fence wrap be taken down? Or will it be up until 2028, the time of construction? I rather look at the beach through a chained link fence. 🙂

  10. Condo owners feel the same way waiting for months to get a simple permit to repair a pool. How can it take so long?

  11. Wow, so these owners most likely already have gotten insurance appraisals and checks but are waiting to be forced into demolition? Have they been paying their property taxes? Maybe that’s the avenue to take to seize or sell the property.

  12. How are the other Ian impacted towns/cities handling this situation? Perhaps a comparison to any one/ all of these communities efforts-initiatives to ‘get the ball rolling’ and their progress or lack thereof, may be helpful in understanding & determining just how to move forward, without further delays on FMB.

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