Fort Myers Beach town council members seem to like the current design put forward by design engineer DRMP and they also agree that delaying the project one year is the best course of action for everyone involved. Here’s why…
If all goes according to plan, the multi-million dollar facelift to downtown Fort Myers Beach will begin after the 2022 busy season. The delay will give the town time to pursue grant funds, and give businesses in the square additional time to recover from a Red-Tide COVID one-two punch.
Once construction begins, the project is expected to take a total of 8 months. Whether construction is done in 8 straight months or in two 4-month stretches has not been decided yet.
On Thursday the Fort Myers Beach Town Council heard from design engineer DRMP about the project which has completed 90% of the design. The council gave town staff the green light to continue to the next step, after asking a few questions that did not warrant changes big enough to slow the project.
There will be some type of clock in Times Square. Whether it’s a new clock or the current clock is still undecided. The sail that some people feel block the view isn’t off the table, but according to Town Manager Roger Hernstadt can easily be removed during the bidding process.
Each restaurant will get new pergolas which will replace their umbrellas. To make sure they line up consistently in the square some restaurants may lose a little serving space, but that will be less than 10%, according to DRMP. The pergolas will be ten feet off the ground.
Sandcast clay pavers will be installed, which will be strong enough to handle a fire truck, and have a soft feel on bare feet. It’s the same product already installed on Old San Carlos.
The plan is to save as many of the palm trees as possible, but there’s no guarantee once they’re removed from the ground to be moved, that they can be saved. If they cannot be saved, they will be replaced.
There will be a moveable FMB Logo sign that the council believes everyone will use as an area to take selfies. If you know the Times Square area, the sign would sit near the poinsettia Christmas Tree. That sign could also be used for other community events.
There will be a covered stage in the area where the Sunset Celebration tent is now set up every weekend.
And, as always, there’s the challenge of the lighting. There has to be a balance between keeping people safe and protecting the turtles. DRMP worked with a lighting manufacturer so the lighting is FWC compliant. The color of the lights will change. During turtle season they will be the amber, turtle-friendly lights. During turtle off-season, they can be changed to be brighter.
Mayor Ray Murphy sort of joked to the DRMP representative, asking him if he was available to help the town with the Estero Boulevard lighting challenge. That got a chuckle from everyone at the meeting.