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Council to revisit sails, clock, memorial

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Nov 17, 2020

The bad reviews continue to come in for DRMP, the design and engineering consultants hired by the Town of Fort Myers Beach Council for reshaping Times Square, Bayside Park and Bay Oaks Recreational Campus.

The latest design from the firm to be criticized was their plans for a veteran’s tribute at Bayside Park.

At Monday’s meeting of the town council, Councilmember Bill Veach called the veteran’s monument for the park put forth by the design consultants “uninspiring.” He said he was also “a little disappointed that the trees were gone” from the Bayside Park plans.

Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros was not pleased with the plans for the park. “The shade trees seem to have disappeared” from the design, she said. “That is something we have been stating all along that we wanted to have shade there. I was told that they didn’t want to do shade trees at Times Square.” Hosafros said she was hoping to have shade trees at the park. “They seem to be gone,” she said.

Town Manager Roger Hernstadt said he will tell DRMP to put in shade trees into the design.

Councilmember Jim Atterholt said he found the veteran’s tribute “underwhelming” as well. Atterholt said he would like to hear from local veterans on their thoughts for a tribute.

The firm’s previous plans to erect a building within a few feet of Nervous Nellie’s was also castigated.

Sailing away

Veach said this past week’s hurricane was a reminder of the danger of placing a large sail at Times Square.

“It really gave me additional reservations about the sail,” Veach said.

The plans by DRMP would place a large sail at Times Square that could be 50 feet high or more at a cost of $450,000 for the sails and $132,000 for a shade sail light.

Atterholt requested that DRMP make a new presentation to the town in person.

The firm was hired through a series of contracts last year and this year based on approval from the council and signed off by Public Works Director Chelsea O’Riley and Hernstadt.

The firm’s projected fees include $367,780 for designing the Times Square renovations alone.

The most recently estimated cost of the Times Square project has been estimated at $4.256 million according to documents provided by the town from Oct. 21.

The Times Square plans also include a $540,000 motorized trellis, $186,400 for coconut palms, $164,100 for a concrete sea wall and $80,000 for a performance stage and band shell.

Asked about the firm’s charges to the town, DRMP’s Paul Benvie declined to discuss the matter.

“I’m going to have to defer you back to the Town of Fort Myers Beach on that,” Benvie said.

Hosafros said the plans for Times Square, including the sails and the clock, will be revisited at a future town council meeting.

Veach said he wants to replace the Times Square clock.

The current plans by DRMP do not have a replacement for the clock and do not include the current clock. It would be replaced by electronic signage that would include the time and other announcements.

The plans by DRMP involving the sail and leaving out the clock at Times Square received nearly universal derision in the comments section the Facebook page of the Fort Myers Beach Observer over the past month. Dozens of people criticized the plans for the sail which they believe would negatively affect the view of the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 100 comments were posted this month over the potential discarding of the clock at Times Square, which many consider to be one of the town’s iconic symbols. Several said to leave Times Square alone the way it is.

Pat Holycross stated “the main reason tourists love Times Square is because it is uniquely quaint and picturesque, not cold and calculated. It’s comfortable and relaxing. Please don’t ruin it.”

The Town of Fort Myers Beach Council has authorized a $10 million loan to cover the expenses of the Times Square project, Bay Oaks Recreational Campus renovations and Bayside Park renovations. On Monday, the council approved using town funds to cover the Times Square project, separate from the loan, which will allow the town to continue charging rent according to Hernstadt.

Following Monday’s meeting, Hosafros said the council may “need to bring in somebody who is artistic” to improve the Bayside Park design.