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Parking debate: Streetscape plan topic of meeting

October 12, 2017
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

For the past two weeks, opponent of the Southeast 47th Terrace streetscaping project have been very vocal about the problems they believe the $13 million project will bring.

But there is also a group that believes the project will be a boon to business in the South Cape and that a beautiful road will help bring in more business and new customers.

On Tuesday, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the South Cape Community Redevelopment Advisory Board will hold a joint meeting at the Chester Street location to hear an update on the parking situation, which some say will either make or break their business and, perhaps, the project.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is set for 4 p.m.

There are 114 on-street spaces proposed to be removed from Southeast 47th Terrace. Upon completion, 1,222 spaces will be provided in the vicinity of the project, serving east and west of Vincennes Boulevard, creating a net gain of 41 spaces.

A PowerPoint presentation will show the improvements expected to be made with regards to parking. There will be more off-street parking at Big Johns, Club Square, Iguana Mia and Nevermind, for a net gain of 87 spaces, according to the presentation, along with the LeeTran bus station providing 39 more spaces.

There will also be on-street parking provided by roads that intersect Southeast 47th Terrace, as well as parallel roads such as 47th Street.

Following the Sept. 26, public meeting about the project, several businesses said they felt blindsided by the elimination of on-street parking and the result would be businesses closing down.

"We'll go out of business if we don't have those spots. My customers have said they will not walk a half-mile or so from Club Square to get fish," said Kerri Krieg, owner of Merrick's Seafood and the Fish Tale Grill.

But others say the benefits will outweigh the negatives and that the customers some businesses could lose will be made up with increased pedestrian traffic.

Ande Grant, owner of Noela Chocolate, said she understands the concerns of companies such as Merrick's Fish, which believe the loss of off-street parking will kill their business.

But the potential for growth and the need to fix the infrastructure makes the project a no-brainer.

"Merrick's is a unique business; they have a lot of people who just want to jump out of their cars and grab what they need. I understand their situation. But we don't really have a downtown that works," Grant said. "The city manager wants people who will linger and visit these businesses."

Grant said the road is currently a "freeway" with people trying to avoid Cape Coral Parkway going so fast they don't see where her shop is.

Further, the large trees have created blind spots, broken the sidewalks and the plumbing, costing her thousands in repair costs.

"The people who planted these trees weren't thinking. It's not that I don't want trees, I want the correct kinds that should be planned for a downtown," Grant said. "This is something that's necessary, especially with the pipes breaking and the way downtown looks. No downtown anywhere looks like this."

The CRA and SCCRAB also will hear a presentation on the market assessment and Implementation plan for the Bimini Basin project.

 
 

 

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