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.