The Fort Myers Beach Town Council will be working with a company called Trust For Public Land to purchase property on the island and preserve that land as a park, trail or some other public benefit.
The money used to purchase the land would not come from taxpayers. Trust For Public Land is a 501c3 that finds the money through grants, FEMA or the State of Florida. The property is purchased from people who are willing to sell. Mayor Dan Allers says he’s spoken to a few property owners who might be willing to be part of this program.
Charles Heinz who works for Trust For Public Land told the council that properties to be considered for the program must be submitted by August 29th.
The Trust For Public Land website states they “create parks and protect public land where they’re needed most so that everyone will have access to the benefits and joys of the outdoors for generations to come.” Some of what the non-profit does is expand national and local parks, builds greener schoolyards, creates trail systems and protects community forests and cultural sites.
Up until Hurricane Ian there was no way the town of Fort Myers Beach could expand its park system. Due to the storm many properties are now for sale that were not pre-Ian, whether its due to the high cost to rebuild or an opportunity for a property owner to cash out. Partnering with Trust For Public Land at least gives the town the option of looking into purchasing property that would benefit the public.
In Florida Trust For Public Land has preserved over 173,188 acres of open land and completed more than 467 projects.