You may have seen Florida Governor Ron DeSantis touting a record $109 Billion budget on Thursday. What you most likely did not see was his $3 Billion in line-item vetoes, which included a $1 million grant to help pay for the Times Square renovation on Fort Myers Beach.
Fort Myers Beach Town Manager Roger Hernstadt had been bragging about receiving the grant money to help pay for the Times Square project and said waiting to have the funds in his hands was one of the reasons to delay starting the project until the end of next season. DeSantis referred to projects he vetoed as pork when discussing the new state budget Thursday.
Hernstadt told the town council that if any money was spent on the Times Square project before the grant money was is in the town’s bank account, those expenses would not be eligible for the grant money.
Hernstadt has said the town would be getting $2 million in grants to help pay for the Times Square renovation, which is estimated to cost about $3.5 million. The town borrowed $10 million several years ago to pay for upgrades to Bayside Park, Bay Oaks and Times Square. Hernstadt has told the council that $10 million will not be enough to cover the cost of the three projects.
The renovation will include every restaurant getting new pergolas which will replace their umbrellas. Sandcast clay pavers will be installed, which will be strong enough to handle a fire truck, and have a soft feel on bare feet. It’s the same product already installed on Old San Carlos. There will be a covered stage, a moveable FMB Logo sign that the council believes everyone will use as an area to take selfies. It’s unknown if there will be a big sail by the pier that some people feel block the view. There will be some type of clock in Times Square. Whether it’s a new clock or the current clock is still undecided.
The town has not gone out to bid on the project yet.
When it does begin the project is expected to take about 4 months to complete.
It’s unclear how the Governor’s veto will impact the funding of the project at this time. The next town council meeting is Monday at 9AM.