The group hoping to find a home for what’s left of the historic arches that were once the gateway to Fort Myers Beach heard more disappointing news last week. Lee County representatives attended the Fort Myers Beach Town Council meeting and were asked whether they were making any progress in their discussions with the Restore the arches group.
Restore The Arches has been pitching locations to both the town and the county for a couple of years now, including: the base of the Matanzas Bridge, Bay Oaks, Lynn Hall Park, Bayside Park and several others. At one point they were close to a deal with the county to put the arches in Crescent Park. The previous town council intervened and let the county know that probably wasn’t the best spot.
At the town council meeting last week Deputy Lee County Manager Dave Harner said the county was willing to work with the group. “Our parks are built for a specific purpose. It’s very difficult to put a large historic monument back on those properties. We’re willing to work with the town and the community to work on some solution. Right now we have not come to an agreement on what parcel we would use.”
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.
Lee County Manager Roger Dejarlais said both sides have been having conversations for quite some time but coming to a successful conclusion has been difficult. “We think if the project were to ever take place it would have to be a scaled down model of the original arches. I know there’s been a desire expressed for it to be the original size but that simply isn’t possible. If we can come to some agreement about a scaled down model of the arches we will probably be a little closer to having some success in these conversations.”
For now, the conversations will continue.