Mooring Field Making Progress

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Earlier this month the Fort Myers Beach Town Council approved a $194,000 contract with a company called Sole Source to install 70 mooring balls. That money is 90% FEMA reimbursable. The Florida Department of Emergency Management will cover 5% and town taxpayers will pitch in just under $10,000.

Environmental Project Manager Chad Chustz says all mooring field balls east of the Matanzas Pass Bridge were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Ian. They have not been used at all since the storm. Chustz is hoping the contractor can have the new system installed by the first quarter of 2024. “The new systems will be installed as soon as the systems are built and the contractor is able to mobilize to install them.”

The west mooring field did have 19 balls open but 6 of those were taken offline do to issues with the channel alignment and damage from the USACE dredge project. The 13 remaining have been open to be rented out for wet storage. On November 1st, the 13 balls will be available for liveaboard rental again with the upland services offered from Matanzas Inn.

The town has reached an agreement with Matanzas Inn Management to resume upland services and mooring facilities for dinghies and the Town’s pumpout boat to service the field. The town will pay Matanzas Inn $36,000 for one year of upland services which will allow boaters to use showers, bathrooms and laundry in their facility.

The town will also lease a mobile office for Harbor Master Austin Gilchrist who’s responsible to enforce the rules of the mooring field. The mobile office will cost $8,305.99. Previously the town had been renting space from Harbour House for an office, which is not being considered as a long-term solution.

Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt said at the last town council meeting he wanted to see the mooring field break even and not cost the taxpayers any money. “That should be our goal, to cover the cost.”

The town is hoping to have a temporary dinghy dock installed by January 2024.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I owned mango Rita’s and I will say the only thing these mooring field people want is a cheap place to live. They spend no money at any business and some, not all were not good people. Many had run ins with police almost daily. A town is a business, who the heck wants to break even?!!! Get a grip councilmen. You should be making money for your tax payers not “breaking even”

  2. Let’s be honest about the mooring field. There was a problem before Ian with dilapidated boats being moored and became housing for the homeless. They would go to the island on a little dinghy and take advantage of the free meals, free clothing, free laundry and free haircuts the churches offered to the homeless creating an attraction for them along with begging for money on Estero. They would literally dump their crap in the bay among other things and have no regard for the environment. Will there be a plan to deal with those issues? Another problem was abandoned boats became homeless camps except for one that was so bad and half sunk that it had to be removed by the town costing around 29k to be removed. I hope they have a plan in place with dealing with these types of vessels. I didn’t appreciate seeing first hand while boating in the bay the human feces and TP floating in the water. These types have a mentality that it’s just fish food. Well do you want to eat the fish that fed off that crap? I think not.

  3. The mooring field will be an important revenue generator for the Town of FMB, so this rebuild is great news. People who cruise aboard their own boats bring significant tourism revenue to Fort Myers Beach (they buy groceries, dine out, visit attractions) while generally increasing road traffic pressures less than land-based tourists. Many cruisers use the trolley or bikes. I was a cruising sailor for 2 happy years and most cruisers are respectful, environmentally responsible additions to the area.

    • Jsail~ I am going to take a chance and guess that you do not live on FMB. The reason I say this is because your thoughts of how cruisers will come and spend a lot of money shopping, dining,etc. isn’t the case. On FMB cruisers (as you call them) would most likely rent a slip at one of the marinas that would give them access to many amenities. The people in the mooring field were mostly homeless people that had claimed abandoned boats as their homes. Then we have a multitude of churches that lured them to the area with free food, medical care,etc. There was one “resort” that was outside of the mooring field that a homeless man created by the bridge. It was multiple broken down vessels tied together and it had tarps and even had a mannequin with a flag. It was a total embarrassment since this was the first thing people would see as they approached the beach. Cape Coral used to have the mooring field and then the community complained and they shut it down because there was one abandoned vessel. Well, they closed it down and guess where all those boats moved to? Yep, FMB. We avoided that area at all costs because we would end up with toilet paper in our propeller. Nothing like a warm welcome to FMB than being greeted by bunch of broken down vessels. That program really needs to have stricter guidelines and the vessels should not be rickety old boats. There was a reason why Cape Coral booted them out. This once again is a program that the town of FMB has to foot the bill for while we try to build it up. If it was nice then it would be filled with lovely newer boats but no one wants to stay there because it is seedy and the boats that were there not sea worthy. I know before Ian, I would have never moored my boat there. While I am sure most of those boats sunk, the people that survived will be out looking for more broken down boats they can tow into the bay and park.

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