The Fight For a Bigger Pier Is On

46
94

Let’s Go FMB pier committee member Allen Shanosky laid into the Lee County Board of Commissioners last night over the Fort Myers Beach pier rebuild. He said the commissioners had no vision and Lee County has stopped taking his calls.

Following Hurricane Ian, Shanosky researched several bridges up and down the state of Florida. He says the Fort Myers Beach pier, which was totally destroyed by Hurricane Ian, was the 3rd smallest pier in the state of Florida. He’s been pushing Lee County, which owns the pier and Lynn Hall Park, to build a much bigger pier. Although he now refers to his bigger pier as “less than average pier.”

To this point all indications from Lee County are that the pier will be rebuilt to as close to the way it was. The reason for that is funding. FEMA pays for structures as long as they are built back the way they were before the storm. In the case of the pier, FEMA will most likely also pay for a more resilient, higher pier, to try to prevent the next storm from wiping it out again.

That’s just not good enough for Shanosky and the Let’s Go FMB pier committee. Shanosky said Thursday night that, “None of these (Lee County) Commissioners live on this island. They will not take our calls. Does any Commissioner have the vision to see beyond their term?”

Shanosky believes a new pier built back the way it was will cost about $8 million and that his much bigger pier idea would cost an additional $10 million. The Town of Fort Myers Beach has no money to contribute to Lee County toward a bigger pier, although Shanosky says the money is there but the will of the County Commissioners to find the money is not.


Shanosky suggests Lee County use a portion of the $55 million set aside to administer the more than $1.2 billion in CDBGR HUD funds it will distribute over the next few years. Or, he says, TDC funds could be used over the next 4 years to help fund a much bigger pier. A third option, according to Shanosky, is for Lee County to apply for a Local Funding Initiative Request grant from the Florida Legislature. He says it’s a 4-page application that the Commissioners simply refuse to apply for.

In late January, the Lee County Procurement Management Department chose international company Stantec Consulting Services to design and permit (not build) the Fort Myers Beach pier. It’s the first step in what’s expected to be a 4-year process to rebuild the structure.

The next step is for Lee County Board of Supervisors to negotiate a contract with Stantec to begin the design and permit work for the pier. The item is not expected to come before the Board of Commissioners for approval until April.

To this point all indications from Lee County are that the pier will be rebuilt to as close to the way it was. The reason for that is funding.

On Tuesday, Fort Myers Beach Town Councilwoman Karen Woodson plans to speak at the Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting. She plans to tell Commissioners that the Fort Myers Beach Town Council supports Lee County building a bigger, wider, more resilient pier. Last month the Town Council voiced support for raising the parking fees in Lynn Hall Park from $2.00 per hour to $5.00 per hour to help cover the cost of a bigger pier. Fort Myers Beach does not own Lynn Hall Park, Lee County does.

46 COMMENTS

  1. We don’t need to raise the parking rates. What we need is a vision of the entire pier and the entry. Once that is in place, we would know exactly what the cost would be. Fundraising would be a great start. I know there are several companies that can sell paver bricks that can be etched with donors names. The bricks could be sold anywhere from $500 and up depending on the size. People love to come to the pier. They love even more to know that they were a part of the rebuild process. Families would be able to come to the pier and find their paver stone. It has been done at many other places and it worked and looks beautiful. I am guessing a lot of out of state people would also love to purchase a brick so that when they visit, they can search out their family brick. I would love to help raise funds for the rebuild of the pier and I am guessing a lot of other people would as well.

    • I agree and keep in mind Lee County in SW Florida houses a population of people between the ages of 60 to 90+. These people have been living on FMB for many many years. We can’t afford $5 an hour to park and another $10 + to walk out and enjoy sunsets,fishing and visiting with people on the piers. Let Lee County get it fixed in a timely fashion and get it moving forward again. The way the boardwalks were prior to IAN were great for the elderly and handicapped. Think of the fill time residents rather they live on or off island, please.

  2. I like to equate bigger with better. Let’s build it better, with wide walkways and fishing stations. Let’s get real: the pier is for Sun setters; they leave after sunset, fisherman with their grandkids, and they will be there all day. Tourists will love taking a walk. Extend the pier and make it better, which is bigger. Chill out, everyone; they should let locals on for free and charge the tourists two dollars. They do that in Clearwater Beach’s beautiful pier

    • Most people me included when visiting St Pete, Clearwater, etc, won’t pay the fees,they walk along side the piers. And it was more than $2 when we were up there prior to Covid.

      • Clearwater Beach pier, if you’re fishing, includes your fishing license for the day. It is quite a deal; if you build it, people will come at any price, unfortunately

  3. Why do we need a bigger pier? The island can not take more traffic, also a bigger pier will block the water view of all the businesses in Times Square.

    • Believe the new setbacks will limit the time square businesses. The sun is in the sky the water is as far as the eye can see doesn’t end at the pier.

  4. I looked at the drawing and also wondered what that huge building was — it looks like a regional hub for an Amazon warehouse or a factory or something that really trashes the place up. The photo above it that resembles how the pier used to look has two problems — You can’t seriously expect 6 umbrella tables to serve the public well. You would have to have a daily lottery to see which 6 families or couples get the tables for a afternoon picnic where 200 hundred people want to sit, eat, talk, and watch the birds. A more intelligent idea would be to , of course (1) dramatically widen the walkway leading to the end of the pier for the soon to be huge crowds- (and, they will be huge). Secondly (2)- you could make the end of the pier have a much bigger area to stand and look out at the Gulf . With this area, if you make it much bigger you could do two things — on one side of this area (the floor space end of the pier) you could have a much larger floor area for many more people to fish “At The Same Time” (no lottery tickets required to fish- “and that’s no joke”). On the other half of this area at the end of the pier you could actually do this – have a platform (essentially a wooden countertop) running around the railings for people to sit and eat. Essentially it would be like the platform that was used to clean fish that was on the old Pier – only longer instead of how short it was before — which was about 4 feet long. Only this time it’s set aside strickly meant to be used as a table of sorts to sit and eat lunch while watching the birds and the Gulf . Then bar stools that could be removed at night (or perhaps built in seating). I mean honestly — how many more 2 by 8 plywood boards would be needed to create a bar counter to eat at—- HUH — maybe a half dozen 10 foots links. And the seats could be purchased a year or two later. Back to my earlier suggestion now —- I think it would be cheaper widening the pier than it would be to add what looks like an ugly distribution center on the shore.

  5. If Lee County did the smart thing for the pier, then they should have a reserve. Why not use the reserve money to get a jump start on rebuilding the pier or to make it better. If the county has no reserves for the pier, then they should start one.
    Also, I would like to see a Ferris Wheel on Time Square.

    • It’s a rendering from one of the LGFMB presentations… a big building in the park connecting it to the pier, with parking, restrooms, and I don’t remember what else.

      IMHO taking away the park to plunk down a building is absurd. But that’s just my .02.

  6. There is a lot of good points being made in the above comments and I agree that the peir is a nice attraction for visitors to the beach. Maybe not so much for the people that live on the beach because they see it every day. I own a place just a few miles inland off the beach. (Summerland and Gladiolus) I am currently still working so I am not down full time. I am there all of November and all of December and for those 2 months I am probably on the beach 5 out of 7 days a week. My idea is this.
    Let Lee County and FEMA pay the $8 million to build the peir back the way it was. That takes a big chunk out of the total cost . That can be Phase 1 and that gives a base to work off of. That will take 4 years and in that time more money can be raised.
    Now money can be raised for Phase 2 and even Pase 3. And that can consist of extensions off Phase 1. Maybe an extention off the end, extending the length, or maybe a wing off one side or both. (Of coarse wings would comprimise the view from the beach) What ever it may be it doesn’t have to be all done at once. An initial design can be submitted and it can be built in Phases. Each Phase will take time to build and in the meantime money for the next phase can be raised. Be it from parking fees or whatever idea someone comes up with.
    Just my thoughts. I know I’m not a resident but I do spend most of my time on the beach. I will retire one day and I want the beach to be the best it can be.

    • I like a multi-phase construction makes the most sense but also get some corporate sponsorship for the pier, bait and souvenir shop and add a concession stand.

      • FEMA doesn’t allow restaurants/concessions over water.

        Naples just found out the hard way and had to waste time and money redesigning their new pier.

  7. Raise the parking rates and start a fee to come over the bridge, like Sanibel. Bite the bullet and get tons of revenue for Lee County and FMB. A bigger pier will be paid for in no time. Maybe a few less cars as well. Free for FMB residents of course.

  8. This bigger is better attitude is RIDICULOUS!!! Put it back the way it was…sick of people trying to use money to impress. That’s all this is…FMB was a simple island with people who truly loved the gulf and beaches..enjoyed living simple. Now it is being ruined..so very sad.

  9. Great Job by Allen , anyone who cares to comment , hopefully listened to his presentation- our Pier if done Propery like Key West or Panama City would only ADD to the FMB experience –
    You only get one shot – too not improve Pier that is entirely too small and dangerous – designed decades ago and replacement expected to last many decades into future would be a short sighted TRAVESTY –
    Everything around that Pier MUST change and to not change the pier at this opportune time again would be foolish

    • Thank you; one of the voices of reason. I think too many people can only think about themselves and do not have the ability to think about anything but the short-term.

  10. I’ve never heard anyone say I’m going to Ft Myers Beach because of the pier. They are here enmasse and we have no pier. I’ve lived here 27 years and I’ve gone on the pier with company for pictures. Just because you can maybe get someone else to pay for it is not a good reason to push for it. Stronger build- yes, showier pier- no. There are only a given number of resources and we need to focus on the important ones.

    • I agree. If you want a bigger and better pier, pay for it yourself. If not, take what you get. It seems silly to get all worked up about the pier taking so long to rebuild when Times Square is probably 4 to 5 years away from a comeback and that is within FMB’s control.

    • I agree with Linda 100%. Build it stronger but keep the original look. With everything else changing I’d like to keep the pier the same. Just feels more like home that way.

    • So true. Seems wrong to expend all this energy on something truly unnecessary when FMB Strong is collecting cans of soup for FMB residents who are limited on food as well as housing. Seems like this should be your first priority.

  11. A bigger pier is a great idea, but does it need that section for laying out? Seems to me the pier would be too crowded with people hanging out waiting for a lounge chair.

  12. That was an AWESOME presentation by Mr. Shanosky. Do our Commissioners CARE to listen? Can they, will they, spare a little time to complete the 4 page application? I’m wondering if they know, and understand, where the numbers lead us? If not, they need to pay attention and take a lesson from Mr. Shanosky’s research. This little town, the biggest income producer for Lee County, deserves the best. We are Lee County’s playground and we love it…. Let’s see how much love there is for us, Commissioners. Good luck, Karen. You can get the point across, I’m sure of that.

  13. Plenty of beach side parking for anywhere from $15-25 per day. $5 is not unreasonable compared to other cities including Sanibel’s beach parking fees.

  14. I’m not sure what the structure is supposed to be, but it looks like a 2-story parking garage with Time Square on top of it. If that is what it’s supposed to be, traffic on and off the island will be even worse. No more parking spots!

    • In my opinion, that would alleviate others trying to find a parking space further down the beach and get them off the road quicker. AGAIN, that is my opinion, I am not versed in traffic control.

  15. This pier project will take the government many years to complete, regardless of the size. Enjoy the view of the concrete pilings because that will be the view for a long time. Sad buy true.

  16. Interesting pictures. Shows a parking garage where Times Square now stands. Maybe some captions under the architect’s drawings to explain?????

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here