Residents Say They Are Being Railroaded

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Tempers flared at the Fort Myers Beach Anchorage Advisory Committee meeting this week. Residents that live on Tropical Shores Way are livid that the town is considering building the upland facility for the mooring field residents behind town hall on property the town recently purchased for $1 million.

The residents are upset that a canal that runs behind their homes will be used by mooring field residents to get to the facility, to wash their clothes, take showers and dispose of trash.

Boaters who rent mooring balls from the town use a small boat, called a dinghy, to get to a dock. By law, the town has to provide upland facilities in order to rent the balls. For years the town has been providing upland facilities through a contract with Matanzas. Over the last several years the town has been looking for a location to bring those services in house. They are also in the process of expanding the mooring field from 70 to 89.

The town was very close to constructing a 3-story building in Bayside Park between Nervous Nellie’s and Snug Harbor. That plan was spiked at the 11th hour when businesses and residents in that area found out about it and showed up in force to a council meeting. They let the council know what they thought of that idea and the council killed it.

In order to get to a new building by boat, if it’s built behind town hall, you have to use the canal behind the homes on Tropical Shores Way. This is a picture of that canal on the right. And that’s what has this group of residents up in arms. They say the town is rushing through this process. They are also upset with not being included in process and how this has gotten so far along without them knowing about it. They are worried the canal is going to turn into a highway. And there are concerns that mangroves will have to be trimmed.

Tropical Shores Way resident Gloria Abramoff asked the committee if any of them had seen the canal at low tide. It’s mud, she said. “10,000 cubic yards of mud would need to be taken out to make it usable for your purpose.

The town paid $1 million for the property and plans to use the property as a match for a grant of $3 million to pay for the building.

Members of the Anchorage Advisory Committee were also seeing the plan for the first time, and they had been involved in the details of finding an upland facility from day one. A few members also took the opportunity to lament about the squashed Bayside Park plan. Mike Ratliff called the council short-sighted for voting against the Bayside Park plan.

Residents believe the town is rushing this plan through just to apply for the $1 million grant. Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros told them the town could always choose not to accept the money.

In the end the committee voted unanimously not to make a recommendation to the town council, voting to leave it in their hands.

Residents plan to show up in force to the town council meeting on Monday and use the public comment portion of the meeting to voice their opinions again. We will carry that meeting live on our Facebook page.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I live on this canal and will be directly affected by this proposed project. I will be seeing the dinghy docks, building, etc. while sitting in my pool. My husband and I are new to this community as we just moved here less than 2 yrs ago.
    WE BOUGHT THIS PROPERTY FOR THE PRIVACY.
    Why do they think this project is in the appropriate location when it was shot down when they were pushing for it to be down by Snug Harbor and Nervous Nellies? In a more commercial and logical setting. The fact that this location was even considered is ridiculous and very unfair to the people living on this canal.

  2. What is the estimated money spent/to be spent in FMB by owners of the sail boats on the mooring balls. Sailing boat owners on anchors/moorings are notorious for being cheap so the proposed expensive site with improvements isn’t ever going to be a break even deal. Just need a convenient location for boaters to access restrooms with showers(prefab type on skid) on a few parking spaces by the existing dingy dock under the bridge, mostly out of sight, but not free to use unless paid for mooring ball.
    Keep existing motoring office location at nearby Harbour House. If not acceptable then locate restrooms and office on the other side of the bridge/waterway near marinas and pay private property owners to operate office and restrooms.

  3. Why 19 new mooring balls? There are at least 50 boats anchored in the back bay not on a ball
    Does this mean 19 more boats or are some of the anchored boats going to be required to tie up to a ball?
    Where and why did this idea even come from ?
    Does this mean the town council can actually move fast on a project? Can permits be obtained on FMB in three weeks. This is a record?
    Our biggest assets are clean water and our citizens. Both groups are always the last thing considered. It takes forever to change a lightbulb but we can be fast to help strangers shower. Getting a permit for a new bathroom might be the end of this.

  4. Lee makes a valid point. Code requires that any project over $25K requires Council authorization for the Town Manager to negotiate. Since this land purchase was over $1M, surely there must be a record of the Council authorizing the Town Manager to negotiate its purchase, no? Check the minutes where this was voted on. If the Council authorized Hernstadt to negotiate the purchase, then they deserve all the heat that’s coming down on them now. If not, then hoo-boy! Roger is in trouble. And as I’ve mentioned in previous articles regarding the mooring field and the upland services building, WHY does this Town Manager feel its incumbent upon the government to run the mooring fields? He has said in the past, and on the record, that he feels this could be a “break-even” venture for the Town. They’ve spent 1 MILLION dollars for this land, not including the construction and certainly not including the annual operating costs. You want to know why Roger is pushing this so hard? Because there’s a million dollar grant available for this project, and bureaucrats LOVE free money. But here comes the kicker. . . wait for it. . .this grant will likely be available next year, too. So why not wait and think this through? Or better yet, let the mooring fields and upland services be bid out to the private sector, and the Town can simply collect a commission from the operations. Collect the checks, stay out of private business, and concentrate on things that matter to the tax-paying citizens of Fort Myers Beach like traffic management, lighting on Estero Blvd, turtles, the list goes on.

    Stay in your lane, Council and Roger. And stay out of private industry.

  5. Eliminating the balls would solve all these problems and stop the city from wasting millions on the people that make little to no contributions to our community

  6. Lee you are so right. The businesses in Times Square feel the same way on how far a plan got with only one meeting with property or business owners. At our request there has been another meeting without many answers still. I know it’s tough being in public service and trying to make all happy. But the people who are affected the most in any project like this should bear a heavy weight on any decision regarding even doing it.

  7. A common thread keeps running through this town hall’s project planning process: The Town Manager keeps leaving the folks most effected – businesses and neighborhood residents – out of the loop. And his negligence keeps bringing down ​public outrage on the heads of the council members. You’d think they’d notice that and do something about it. Instead, his negligence continues, his paychecks keep coming.
    A strange place this town hall.

  8. Is there a current council member, committee member or town staff member that would want this facility built on the canal they lived on? Does Roger live on a canal?

  9. If the mooring field was operated by a private business and their plans were to use this canal for the purpose the Council is proposing, do you think the council would ever approve the plan? I think “NOT”.

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