This week the Lee County Board of Commissioners voted to award a $2 million contract for street lighting and landscaping on the recently widened section of Alico Road from Ben Hill Griffin Parkway to Airport Haul Road. What about Estero Boulevard?
Town of Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy says he’s been meeting with Lee County Commissioners to ask them to kick in and pay some, or all, of the new amber street lights the town council wants to install on the recently upgraded Estero Boulevard. Lee County owns Estero Boulevard.
Murphy has been cryptic and secretive about his negotiations with the county, at least in public meetings since he took on the negotiations. When he was finally asked for an update by councilman Jim Atterholdt at a council meeting last week, he said “he’s met with the commissioners and anticipates favorable results as a result of those discussions.” He added that’s all he’s going to say about it.
At least one commissioner confirmed to us that he’s never had a single conversation with Murphy on this issue and we received this statement from the county when we asked if anything had changed regarding the county paying for new lights. “The Town’s request for additional lighting on Estero Boulevard is not scheduled for a BoCC agenda at this time. Nothing has changed.”
Up to this point Lee County has not been willing to pay for any additional lights other than the $1.4 million they’ve committed to light 42 crosswalks as part of the Estero Boulevard construction project. The county provides a certain level of service, then it’s up to the municipalities such as Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, Sanibel and others to add on to those services if they want them – and pay for them as well.
According to invoices we obtained in a public document request, Fort Myers Beach taxpayers have so far paid consultant Town Lighting over $118,500 to present a plan to the council. The town council set aside up to $185,000 for the consultant.
In a press release this week, Lee County said the road-widening project along the section of Alico Road is a Lee County Board priority as part of its commitment to improving transportation infrastructure.
Estero Boulevard is one of the busiest roads in all of Lee County, especially during season, and is in complete darkness during turtle season at night. Lee County spent nearly $80 million to upgrade Estero Boulevard, a project that will be completed next month, after 6 years of construction.
The Alico project was completed about a year ago and expanded what had been a two-lane road into a four-lane divided highway with on-road bike lanes and a 12-foot, shared-use path on each side. New underground utility lines also were installed.
The $2 million contract for lights and landscaping is with Alva-based P&T Lawn & Tractor Service, Inc. Work is expected to begin in February.