To the editor:
As residents of Fort Myers Beach, we are dismayed by Lee County's proposal to turn Seafareres' property into a simple at-grade parking lot. It would be very damaging because cars entering and exiting the lot (and drivers and passengers crossing Estero Boulevard) would greatly impede traffic flow at a point where traffic jams are already at their worst!
It would be an embarrassing waste of prime Real Estate near Time Square at the gateway of Fort Myers Beach, directly across from the wonderful new Crescent Beach Family Park.
It would go against the expressed wishes of residents, as documented in the Evaluation and Appraisal Report, adopted by the Town in 2007. This report contains various proposals and plans to re-configure streets west of Mantanzas Bridge (including the use of Helmerich Plaza). These include elevated road sections, pedestrian overpasses, off-island parking and improved public transport for day visitors. Naturally, these plans need to be revised today since the key site of Seafarers has had all buildings removed and is now in public ownership (bought with tax dollars).
This offers a wonderful opportunity for imaginative development of this key area, which can be done in harmony with other vital roadworks, such as the renewal of our drinking water supplies and the re-design of Estero Boulevard, which will soon be started!
In our view, first priority must be given to the improvement of traffic flow in this crucial area. Other construction needs to be planned around this. But high-quality road engineering in the network of streets adjoining Matanzas Bridge could transform the current situation!
We have also just learned that Lee County can now have funds towards creating a permanent Park and Ride lot at Summerlin Square. This could combine with a much improved trolly service and greatly reduce day tourist car traffic to our island.
We have attached Bob Petcher's well-researched recent article in the "Beach Observer" on Feb. 29, where he interviewed the nationally recognized planners Victor Dover and Bill Spikowski, amongst others.
Please look after Fort Myers for the sake of residents and visitors alike!
Michael and Gertraud Short
(plus 77 other residents of Fort Myers Beach)
Fort Myers Beach
P.S. If other readers agree with the contents of this letter, please inform County Commissioner Ray Judah by office telephone (533-2223) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).