That discussion will take place Monday at the next Fort Myers Beach town council meeting. It will most likely come up during council member items. It’s not on the 93 page council agenda that was released yesterday.
The council will need to make decisions on two important issues regarding the lighting on Estero Boulevard; how to spend the $1.4 million Lee County handed over to them, and how much more money are they willing to spend, and ask the taxpayers for, in order to light the Boulevard.
Last month the Lee County Board voted to send the $1.4 million the county planned to use for 42 crosswalks, to the town. The council can now use that money however they’d like on the lights. However, the town is now also responsible to light the crosswalks as well.
To back up the bus up just a bit…
Right now the town has a mish-mash of lights, many of which need to be turned off during turtle season, which begins in less than 60 days.
After hiring a lighting consultant, the town council voted in 2021 to add amber lighting on Estero Boulevard. They sent that resolution to Lee County, and, Mayor Ray Murphy said he had assurances money would be coming to the town to help pay for those amber lights.
At a Lee County Board meeting in March, Deputy Lee County Manager Dave Harner said the county committed to the $1.4 million for crosswalk lighting 7 years ago, as part of the Estero Boulevard road project, and not a dollar more. He also said Estero Boulevard does not meet the requirements needed to add lighting. Those requirements are 20,000 vehicles per day (have they run a count lately?), and a nighttime crash history. Harner said 84% of the crashes on Estero Boulevard happen during the day.
There are several big unknowns about the lighting on the boulevard. What is the actual cost of the amber lights the town wants? How many additional poles and fixtures need to be installed so the lighting flows smoothly down the Boulevard. And, who’s going to install the lights?
The most affordable option for the town would be an FWC approved amber light, that FPL offers, and would install. If that’s the case, it appears, FPL would also cover the cost under it’s tariff program. Last we knew, the amber light that is FWC approved was not on the FPL list, but, they were working toward approving it, going through testing, etc.
If the town does not use FPL and decides to go it alone, and get into the lighting business, everyone seems to agree, that would be the most expensive option. In the millions. And most likely would require a tax increase.
Mayor Murphy appeared to be a tad ticked off when he left the county board meeting last month knowing he wouldn’t be getting any additional funds from commissioners. We should hear more about that for sure at the meeting Monday.
We will carry the Monday town council meeting live on our Facbeook page. It’s the first town council meeting that will be held with brand new audio and video technology that was installed over the past few weeks.