More Money Needed To Construct Arches


Steven Ray McDonald, President of The Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches group, says more money is needed to construct the arches after Lee County notified him that the cost of the project is much higher than originally expected.

Lee County has agreed to install a smaller version of the original arches on the beach at Bowditch Park as long as enough money is raised to cover all the costs.

A rendering of the new arch construction in Bowditch Park

$77,000 has been raised by the group so far (including $20,000 from The King Foundation). That was thought to be enough for the project.

However, the estimates the group was basing its construction numbers on were from 2017. Times have changed since then and the cost of everything is much higher.

Lee County did their own cost analysis for the project and their number was $125,000: $90,000 for the construction, $20,000 to get the stones cut, $7,000 for signage, and $8,000 for the etched bricks.

McDonald says to make up the difference, the organization has started the “Restore Fort Myers Beach Arches 1,000 Brick Campaign.” 300 bricks have been purchased/donated so far. The bricks would be part of a walkway through the arches. McDonald says if a total of 1,000 bricks are donated the project will be fully funded.

Businesses and residents can donate a small brick (4 X 8) for $100 or a large brick (8 X 8) for $225.

There are 17 stones from the original arches remaining, about 1/3 of the original structure. That amounts to 60,000 pounds of stone.

The arches welcomed residents and visitors to Fort Myers Beach, where the Matanzas Pass bridge now sits, from 1924-1979. When they were knocked down to construct the new bridge not all the pieces were saved. Those that were are now in storage.



  1. When the 1st bridge was build across Matanzas Pass in 1921, there were 9 property owners on Estero Island. In 1924, when the Arches were built as an entrance to a sales pavilion, the old road to the old 1921 wood bridge went along side them, not under. Tom Philips gave right away to his property in 1926 after the Hurricane devastated the area to align San Carlos Blvd to the Arches over the swing bridge. It stayed the iconic entrance to the beach for over half a century and only way on for much of that time. It is not a waist of money, if it is not your money. Giving a small piece of property back to recognize a man that gave his property to you is a small price to pay. We choose to save the Arches, they are home to many of us. It is the monuments of your town that define you. We think the decision is already made, The County, town and citizens what the Commemorative Arch to be a part of what defines us. They were even part of the prize winning Margaritaville Christmas parade float. Polls showed 70% of the beach support them back over the road. We compromised and a much larger majority agree with the Arch Commemoration.

  2. Margaritaville originally had the arches depicted on the pedestrian walkover. The county chose something modern that doesn’t fit our beach motif. Even big corporations want to be good neighbors, fit in their community and preserve history. No reason we can’t have both progress and history.

  3. It will happen! It’ll be fun knowing a sweet memory of our past is in hundreds of thousands of happy photo ops…on the most wonderful little sand bar, ever!

  4. Why? Out with the old, in with the new. Got a brand new shiney Margaritaville Resort coming to town! Gonna bring more visitors and money than you’ll know what to do with. And that will spur even more development. Before long you won’t even recognize the place. So why waist money on relics of the past? Up ward on on ward!

    • I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, and found that most every town, city, state and country around the world seems to respect their history, commemorating it in many different ways, and for many different reasons, including for tourism purposes, so in a tourist economy like FMB, I see no reason why we cannot have both history and progress (like someone else said). Forward and Onward is another good way to look at things.


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