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3360 Estero cottage faces hurdles

August 9, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor (jsalmond@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The 3360 Estero beach cottage might be on the move again.

Island developer Joe Orlandini moved it from its original location on Estero Boulevard to San Carlos Island in June. It was a midnight affair, with the cottage being watched over by members of the community as it made its way to the temporary location off-island.

The cottage was slated to remain on a property on San Carlos Island until it could be placed at the start of Matanzas Pass Preserve in the care of the Estero Island Historical Society. In the meantime, Orlandini was working to get the home repainted and refurbished.

Article Photos

The 3360 Estero cottage sits at its temporary home on San Carlos Island undergoing a makeover — it's been stripped in preparation for a fresh coat of paint.

But Orlandini didn't have a Lee County permit to keep the home at the San Carlos property, and now he's been issued a code violation and must move the home. The property isn't zoned for storage, and to keep the home on the property Orlandini would have to go through a rezoning process, which would take months.

Orlandini said he thinks someone submitted a complaint to the county about the house, because many people have been supportive of his efforts.

"People tell me they're happy I did it," Orlandini said. "But some people are so angry with me. I symbolize change on the island."

The developer said he's found another place to keep the house - but this time, he's not telling anyone about it.

"We're running out of places to put it," he said.

It can take thousands of dollars to save a historic cottage, which Orlandini has already spent.

Then it takes thousands more for its upkeep.

The Estero Island Historical Society's goal is to keep and maintain the 3360 Estero Boulevard cottage, but it's hoping for a little help from the community.

"We're not in the business of acquiring (cottages). We can't afford that," said Russ Carter, a society member. "We're faced with, okay, $20,000 to $50,000 to get a cottage, is one thing. To take care of it, that's another. That's a rolling expense."

Carter was appointed to "a committee of one" to coordinate the receiving of the iconic cottage from Orlandini.

Earlier this summer, Lee County was coordinating with Friends of Matanzas Pass Preserve to use a cottage at the preserve for an education center. However, due to financial hurdles, the Friends and the county has backed away and the historical society is taking charge of the cottage from Orlandini's project.

"It's a tasty little cottage," Carter said. "I always said if I won the lottery, I would buy it."

The first obstacle before funding the upkeep of the small building is finding room for it. The society leases its land from the county; however, it's uncertain if there will be enough space in their leased space to add the cottage. The society is spending about $1,200 on a survey to see just what space might be available and how much more it needs to add to the lease to fit in 3360 to the village of historic buildings.

The last time the society saved a Fort Myers Beach building, it took several years of fundraising efforts to acquire it. To save the Sand Castle Kindergarten building, one of the two currently placed at Matanzas Pass Preserve, the society held a series of bake sales and yard sales to raise the money to buy it, move it and restore it, Carter said.

"It was on railroad ties - it took us years to save up," he said.

For 3360, the society is getting a little help with restoration.

Orlandini has been renovating it as closely to its 1930s-era glory as possible, all at his own expense.

"He's been a prince," Carter said. "He stepped up and physically saved the cottage from demolition."

The home has been stripped down and will be repainted; Orlandini has hunted down an appliance business that specializes in old-time fixtures and hardware to make sure the inside reflects the exterior's era.

"The idea behind this is that it brings the community together, is was what I was hoping it would do, and mend the anxiety out there about the new construction and show we care about the character of the island," Orlandini said in a previous Observer article.

But even with Orlandini's help, the cottage's expenses won't be over any time soon. Once the cottage is placed on the county land, it will be up to the society to care for and maintain it. As a 501(c)3, the nonprofit is dependent on donations from the community to care for the island's history.

"One of our fundraisers is selling water color stationary, and this (cottage) is one of the four on there," Carter said. "It's one of the most symbolic of beach cottage history. To take care of it is a rolling expense."

For now, the society doesn't have any specific fundraising campaigns underway as many of its members are out of town for the summer season.

Carter said anyone wishing to make a donation to the society can call him at 233-3571, or stop by the society on Wednesday or Saturday, when it is open from 10 a.m.to noon. He also encourages interested donators to consider joining the society: membership cost is $15.00 a year or $100 for a lifetime membership.

"People go places and like places because of the character of the place they're going," Carter said. "Tourists, residents, snowbirds are attracted to the natural environment and the character of our island. We try to impress as many people with the intrinsic value of our history."

And hopefully, Orlandini's new secret storage place will keep to the county code until the home can rest in peace at the historical society's cottage compound.

 
 

 

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