It was a busy news year for Fort Myers Beach, and we covered it all. Our top ten stories were determined by how many times our readers clicked on and read these stories on the Beach Talk Radio News website, and viewed on our Facebook page. Here are the ten stories you loved the most from 2021.
#10) The Creation of an NAB Board
Whether or not the town should create a Nuisance Abatement Board concerned many of you. It was a choice between enlarging the government and dealing with what appeared to be to many an escalating crime problem at one specific location on the beach. In the end, the NAB was created. So far it hasn’t been used.
#9) The Fishingest Bridge in all of Florida
Back in February Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy made the phrase “The Big Carlos Pass Bridge is one of the fishingest bridges in the state of Florida if not the United States of America” famous. He uttered those words in opposition to a new 60-foot bridge Lee County plans to build, and pay for, to replace the old Big Carlos Pass Bridge. Murphy provided no actual data to back up his claim.
#8) Those Big Houses
In August the Fort Myers Beach Town Council started looking at ways to put a stop to homes that were being built across several properties blocking the views that old Fort Myers Beach had become know for.
#7) Mayor Tells Sheriff To Give Us Free Deputies
Mayor Ray Murphy makes your list of the biggest stories of 2021 again. In September, he thought he could get 4 deputies for the price of 2 from the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. It was all part of the community policing discussion which eventually died in a 3-2 vote. The Mayor’s request for free deputies went no further than the town council chambers that day.
#6) The Crosswalks at the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge
It looks like a maze of mayhem and it has many of you concerned. Why are there so many crosswalks in the design of the new Matanzas Pass Bridge and can anything be done to change it before construction begins? This one will continue to be a big story in 2022 with a public hearing about the project and, eventually, more construction in that area.
#5) The CWA
There’s been a fight over the Little Estero Critical Wildlife area on the south end of Fort Myers Beach for years. As two homeowners battle the town for a walkover to the beach from their homes, a multi-million dollar monkey wrench was thrown into the story when it was determined that, if the homeowners actually do own the land, millions of dollars could be lost for beach renourishment.
#4) The Street Preachers
It’s free speech versus the right to enjoy a nice meal in peace in Times Square. Street preachers calling people names through a bullhorn and holding up signs of dead babies have become a regular occurrence in Times Square. It’s even led to locals arming themselves with their own bullhorns to battle back
#3) Community Policing
It was a fight Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafras was determined to win…and she did. Hosafross did not want to pay the Lee County Sheriff’s Department for extra deputies to become regulars on the beach. She had the support of the Mayor and Councliman Bill Veach and their plan to have cameras installed all over the beach won over community policing.
#2) The Estero Boulevard Road Project
It seemed to be the project that would never end. However, as we head into 2022, the final touches are being put on what turned out to be a 7-year road construction project at a cost of $80 million to Lee County.
#1) Margartiville Construction Begins
After a frivolous lawsuit finally came to an end and the pandemic was more under control, the official groundbreaking for the Margaritaville resort took place in August. By far, the story about Margaritaville always gets more eyeballs on our website and Facebook page. Most of you are in favor of the project and understand how it will rejuvinate an area that’s been ignored by the town after a long-ago hurricane transformed the area into blight. Some still complain about how it will change the old charm look of the beach. No matter how you feel, it was always the number one story in 2021. And, we’ll be providing video updates of the construction every Saturday morning before our radio show.
Estero Boulevard Lighting
Whether or not new lights are ever installed on Estero Boulevard remains a question mark. And that has to do with the cost and who’s going to pay for them. What we do know is if new lights go in, the majority of those elected want the lights to be Amber. The Mayor believes he can get Lee County to pay for it and has begun quiet negotiations with Lee County Commissioners. Lee County has told us they have no plans to pay for new lights. This is a ‘stay tuned’ story.