The Arches Get a Lifeline

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Just when it looked like there was no place left for the old arches to be reconstructed there’s new life for the remains of the stone structure that welcomed resident and visitors to the beach. Councilman Jim Atterholdt suggested putting the arches on the beach side of the southern most entry point to Lynn Hall Park. People would then walk under the arches as they went out onto the beach or returned to the parking lot area.

A group called 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.

The Bay Oaks Committee recently voted 7-0 to keep the arches off the Bay Oaks property.

At one point the Restore The Arches group was close to a deal with Lee 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.

When a suggestion was made to meet with the group organizing the project, Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros, who was in favor of the Crescent Park idea, criticized the group working on restoring the arches. “They’re leader is not even (living) here. They are disjointed in their structure.”

The organizer of Restore The Arches is Steven Ray McDonald. He told us that there are 17 stones from the original arches remaining. That amounts to 60,000 lbs of stone. “What we think is about 1/3 of the originals. Although replacement stone can be sourced from Lynquist Brother Quarry on Alico Rd. The cost of replacing a 60ft Arch was estimated to be 75K.” McDonald says his organization plans to fund the project.

The next step in the process is to get a dialogue going once again with Lee County. The County owns Lynn Hall Park. Mayor Ray Murphy said Lee County wants to wash their hands of this issue. “They’re looking to us. We can convince them to come along with us. There’s no perfect place. We’re sending the County a signal that we are moving forward exploring options.”

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.

4 COMMENTS

  1. It is unfortunate that JGustafson does not appreciate history the way others do, and apparently does not consider the fact that the local economy depends on how many tourists can be attracted to come to FMB, how long they stay, and how often they return. Historical attractions add to the number of “Things To Do” in FMB, so they can have a positive impact on the economy, since they can be part of the initial attraction, a factor in how long a tourist chooses to stay, and even a motivation to return. The Arches are a missing element that were a significant part of FMB history, and bringing them back will be a positive addition in my opinion.

    • My Grandfather helped build, the arches at Fort Myers beach. I never got to meet my Grandfather, because he was killed in 1947. He was only 45 years old at the time of his death.
      My Mother would take us kids to the beach, and tell us kids about her father.
      For me this brought my Grandfather, alive for me. When they tore down the arches my Mom cryed everytime she thought about it.
      I wish the arches were saved so I could take my son and daughter to see them, and retell my Mom’s story about my Grandfather! His name was. George R. Crawford

  2. We are ecstatic in the Towns decision. I do not reside in Fort Myers anymore, I have a 48 year history in FMB. I left to join the Military. I grew up their, and some family is still there. It is my hometown. I care deeply about it. It is easy for people that are not part of our Facebook Group to think we are disjointed. Although, we do get the basis behind your opinion that we are a disjointed organization, we aren’t. We have a public group and to keep the majority of folks happy (just like you), we vote on things. Our local VP Jane Luchi died last year and that didn’t help, we miss her. Although, local Gayle Mason has been given a lot of leeway in speaking for us, ultimately I am in Charge. I am a phone call or email away. The Bay Oaks Committee should not be making decisions for all of us. In our group decisions are made by citizens, former citizens, and visitors. We have always said we would fund the project and never asked for anything other then a place to put them.

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