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Parade route for Fourth of July a hazard

Construction team will try to appease town

April 5, 2016
By John Morton (jmorton@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Making way for last month's Shrimp Festival Parade to stay on its standard route wasn't so hard for construction personnel - mostly, equipment was moved and the request was made to not throw beads into the holes in the ground.

But things won't be as easy with Fort Myers Beach's desire to hold its annual Fourth of July Parade. That's because construction on the center lane of Estero Boulevard at that time will likely encompass about 700 feet in the heart of the route, which traditionally goes between Sea Grape Plaza and Times Square.

And construction representatives on Monday told Town Council members that a switch in grade, going from a crown in the road's center to an inverted crown, could be as drastic as 2 feet. Not only could people trying to cross the road easily trip, those standing on floats could literally tip over.

Project leaders will report back to the town by the end of the week as to whether its people feel comfortable with the town's desire to stay with the parade route, and how much it would cost to properly prepare the construction area to lessen the danger.

Floats need 20 feet in width to travel down a lane, they reported, plus extra space is needed for roadside viewers. Mayor Dennis Boback suggested that viewers could be limited to just one side of the street or not at all along the 700-foot hazard area.

Other suggestions included limiting floats to golf-cart-sized vehicles and placing an emphasis on marching groups. As for routes, alternatives suggested include Crescent Street under the bridge though Times Square and both the northern and southern ends of the island. All were dismissed.

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Kaye Molnar, spokeswoman for the ongoing Estero Boulevard Improvements Project, suggested a reduced route between Key Estero shops and Times Square, but the council felt it wouldn't be long enough.

"A one-block-long parade doesn't cut it," said Boback, who started the parade nine years ago while previously mayor.

He also emphasized the importance of keeping the route intact despite construction in order to benefit the businesses that have thus-far suffered at ground zero of the project.

"It will help them during a slow time," he said.

Bud Nocera, president of the Forty Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, agreed, noting the parade offers a good combination with the fireworks at dusk.

"It brings people to the island early and they spend money," he said.

He also reported that a survey sent to the chamber's members showed about a combined 60 percent of the 50 respondents considered the parade very important or extremely important.

Nocera also gave an update on the amount of money area businesses are raising for the fireworks, which stands at about $15,000 in commitments. The show will cost about $50,000, and the town has agreed to match funds raised up to $25,000.

 
 

 

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