Never say never. Before this week Fort Myers Beach residents believed that the 3-story view-blocking building town staff nearly snuck in was long gone. That was until the Anchorage Advisory Committee, with an assist from Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros, convinced the council to revisit Bayside Park as an option for mooring field upland services.
Right now the town operates a 70-slip mooring field east of Matanzas Pass Bridge
The town is in the process of expanding the mooring field to add 19 additional moorings west of Matanzas Pass Bridge accommodating vessels up to a length of 85 feet.
As part of operating a mooring field, upland services must be provided. Upland services include restrooms, washer and dryer facilities and an office. Right now those services are being contracted out to Matanzas Inn.
The Anchorage Advisory committee and several council members want to take the upland services in house. However, with limited property available on the island the town is having a tough time finding an adequate location. Because they own Bayside Park that location became a prime location.
Months ago, the small park located between Nervous Nellie’s and Snug Harbor was very close to becoming the home to a 3-story building that would have included all the upland services and other town office space. When business owners and residents finally heard about the town’s plan to erect the view-blocking building, there was a lot of opposition. Enough opposition that the council quickly scrapped the plan.
Anchorage Advisory committee members have been trying to claim there was little opposition to the plan. A claim the Vice Mayor corrected them on at their last meeting, telling them she received dozens of e-mails from concerned citizens. That location was considered dead enough for a new 3-story upland services location that bids were about to go out for the council’s revised plan to spruce up the park, which includes a stage, shade trees and improved landscaping.
Two days ago, at their Management & Planning meeting, town council members gave the Anchorage Committee the courtesy of considering the Bayside location again. Councilman Dan Allers: “My position hasn’t changed. We should look for other options. Restrooms and showers in a park doesn’t make sense to me.” Allers has been pushing the Town Manager to contact Moss Marine to see if they would consider taking over upland services.
Vice Mayor Hosafros said even if Moss Marine agreed to take over the town would have the same issue. “If we’re expanding the mooring field we need to have more space available with showers.”
Mayor Ray Murphy said putting the building at Bayside Park is the path of least resistance. “That is the ace in the hole, building it in Bayside Park. It has to remain an option.” He also said, regarding the businesses in the Bayside Park area…”The complaints are constant from those people down there.” He did not specify who “those people” are.
An option that was being considered was purchasing two condo units from Harbor House. Those negotiations stalled quickly over whether the restrooms should be open to the public, two parking spots the town demanded (even though the town owns the parking under the bridge) and several other issues.
Councilman Bill Veach said the owners of The Harbor House should be bending over backwards to help the town because they were the most vocal group complaining about the big building in Bayside Park. He blamed The Harbor House owners for putting the town between a rock and a hard place (Note: the owner of The Harbor House will be on Beach Talk Radio tomorrow morning at 8:45 to discuss).
In the end the council gave the town manager direction to move forward with the bidding process to keep the park a park and to look at other locations for upland services.
If you were wondering…mooring ball rental fees are $18/day, $103.00/week or $312.00/month which includes taxes.