County Has No Plans To Pay For Estero Blvd Lights

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On Monday the Fort Myers Beach town council approved a resolution recommending Lee County install amber lighting along Estero Boulevard and authorized the Mayor to coordinate that implementation. Here’s what the county had to say about that resolution.

Town council members believe Lee County should pay for some – if not all – of the amber lighting the town has chosen to install on Estero Boulevard, which is a county road. We reached out to Lee County Monday to find out if the Lee County Board had any plans to pay for some – or any – of the Estero Boulevard lights the town council is planning to eventually install.

Lee County Communications Director Betsy Clayton responded by e-mail: “The county has no plans to pay for the extra lights the Town is planning. Our original agreement for the road project included (lighting the) crosswalks and that’s how we are proceeding.” County Board chairman Kevin Ruane said the same back in August on episode #176 of Beach Talk Radio. 

Mayor Ray Murphy recently said he met with Commissioner Sandelli and told him “crosswalks are not enough.” Murphy said he told Sandelli that the Estero Boulevard road project is not complete until the lighting is done.”

The town has paid several hundred thousand dollars to consultants to study a road it doesn’t even own. And now it’s clear they were spending that taxpayer money without having any sort of understanding with the entity that owns that road.

On Monday, councilman Bill Veach added several lines to the resolution he’s hoping will help the county understand how important Estero Boulevard is to them. Here’s one example of what Veach added: “Whereas Estero Boulevard acts as the main arterial road for Fort Myers Beach and serves a vital sector of the area’s economy and generates millions of dollars in sales tax revenue for the state and county.”

The resolution was unanimously approved.

The town council wants amber lights installed on Estero Boulevard to protect the turtles. That could cost millions of dollars depending on how many new poles need to be installed. Councilman Dan Allers has suggested it could cost over $4 million to install an amber system.

Right now the Boulevard has a mish-mash of different kind of lights. During turtle nesting season, many of the lights on the road need to be turned off to avoid disorienting the turtles after they hatch. The town’s lighting consultant reported that the high pressure sodium lighting now on Estero Boulevard is obsolete and expensive.

At the last town council Management & Planning meeting Town Manager Roger Hernstadt’s message to Lee County was: “This is your road. We’re giving you our input. Here’s what we’d like done. It’s really your problem to fix.” 

Discussing and studying the poor lighting on Estero Boulevard has been discussed and studied for years. It’s now up to mayor Ray Murphy to change the minds of the Lee County board members. He’s been given the assignment of negotiating with the county to try to get them to pay some of the bill.

8 COMMENTS

  1. When you bite the hand that feeds you this is what happens. Just keeps happening. Town begging for money because they have none. Like the homeless. No different just sitting at a desk instead of a street light.

  2. Getting off subject for a second…what about the sign being broken for months in front of the 7 Eleven across from Lani Kai. That is an eyesore!

  3. To resolve the possible problem let’s see where the previous turtle nests were located (I know they were mapped) while we walk the beach at night and verify the light intrusion. Now for pedestrian safety let’s put the yellow reflective tape back on both sides of the crosswalk sign posts I had installed when I was on the town public safety task force committee, years ago.

  4. A foothold is the crosswalks which need to be revisited and additional ones added….
    Does anyone know what lighting Lee County is planning on for the crosswalks? Seems to me this should be a collaborative effort.

  5. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. The council should have had agreement with the County or knowledge of their not paying for the lighting before ever hiring consultants—if they were even necessary. The above comments about the totally unused Crescent Beach Park are spot on. And let’s not forget the junk yard across the street where a revenue producing Mall once existed before the county pillaged the property.

  6. With Margaritaville going up next door to crescent street park, there will be a fantastic water park. The county should sell that park and use the revenue to pay for the lighting project. Lighting the roads is far more important than a beach area park that is used a handful of days a year.

    • Selling Crescent Park would be absolutely nuts.
      The public should get all the Gulf front property it can find for parks as more of the beachfront is walled off and families looking to spread blankets are run off the beachfront in front of the buildings.
      The problem here is an incompetent Town Hall that should have known up front the county had no intention of paying for new lights. Incompetence at this level should be seared into the memories of island voters come election day.

  7. Once again Lee County has shown that FMB is just a cash cow! Crescent beach park is a joke! Think of how much $$$ the county makes off property taxes and the island is almost vacant 6 months a year! But after all they have roads to build in Leigh! Let’s not even talk about the trolley transfer station on Summerlin!

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