On Tuesday the Lee County Board of Commissioners sent a clear message to the Fort Myers Beach Town Council: If you want to upgrade the lighting on Estero Boulevard you need to pay for it.
Despite telling Fort Myers Beach residents he had assurances from Lee County Commissioners that money to pay for new amber lights would be forthcoming, Mayor Ray Murphy left Tuesday’s county board meeting clearly upset with what took place. Murphy did not speak at the meeting. Councilman Dan Allers was the only speaker on the topic.
The county has always been committed to lighting 42 crosswalks on Estero Boulevard and has estimated that cost to be $1.4 million. What county commissioners did do on Tuesday was agree to turn that money over to Fort Myers Beach and allow the town to use it for lighting as it sees fit. That also now means the town has to take care of the lighting at the crosswalks, in addition to any new lights they would like installed along the Boulevard.
What’s been missing from the funding discussion over the past few months was the fact that a previous town council agreed to pay for any additional lighting back when the Estero Boulevard project was first being discussed. The late Larry Kiker was on the county commission at the time. Kiker was very instrumental in getting the road construction project through at the county level. Fort Myers beach Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros was on the town council at the time this was being discussed and agreed to.
Deputy County Manager Dave Harner gave county commissioners a brief history lesson on Estero Boulevard Tuesday. He said 7 years ago, the county committed to paying for lights at the crosswalks on Estero Boulevard, and the town “agreed to pay for the rest of the lighting along the corridor.”
He also said Estero Boulevard does not meet the requirements needed to add lighting. Those requirements are 20,000 vehicles per day and a nighttime crash history. Harner said 84% of the crashes on Estero Boulevard happen during the day.
The town can now use the $1.4 million from the county to enhance the lighting however it would like.
The town council wants amber lighting on the Boulevard. The town’s consultant, Town Lighting, has estimated the cost of installing amber lights in the millions. Right now the town has a mish-mash of lights, many of which need to be turned off during turtle season.
You can watch the 13-minute discussion about the lights at Tuesday’s county commission meeting HERE.
Is the $1.4 million amount for lighting a current number or a seven year old number? Can any new type of compliant lightning for 42 crosswalks be done for $1.4 M? Has there been a RECENT review of the number of crosswalks that are needed and where they should located?
Leave the crosswalk lighting with the County to do so that County is the contact including for the self interest group and bears the responsibility for this lighting and any liability matters that should arise.
So why didn’t this manager know about that agreement of 7 years ago and remind this council of its details? Could have avoided all this misinderstanding and animosity. That was his job to do.
For the fourth time, why is this guy still drawing a paycheck?
A very enlightening. You had previously written about the situation of the Town had agreed to pay for the lighting with Lee Co. paying for the roadwork…. but this was a comprehensive article on the final word.
Captain Obvious is correct. Fort Myers Beach would be way better off if the town council had a more friendly, healthy, cooperative relationship with Lee County. Working together to achieve common goals is preferable and likely an effective mindset in reaching those goals. Lee County has more resources, more experience and deeper staffing than the town will ever have; why on earth wouldn’t Fort Myers Beach use them as an asset to develop and implement the best lighting plan and other town objectives too?
This is what happens when you bite the hand that feeds you. Once again the mayor and council have put the town in a bad situation. Debt debt debt debt. Equals. Higher taxes. Great ready.
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