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.
$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.