Over the last month or so, proposed redevelopment in the downtown district has become the hot topic of discussion, most recently through information published in the Island Sandpaper. Like the editors, I too have been impatient about getting “the story out”. We now know that November 30th will be the first opportunity to hear everything straight from the source. It's important to get the “story” right - to hear the facts about what is being proposed and to realize that this is just a first step on a long journey. It’s been interesting to hear the various conversations – and of course, the inevitable speculation and rumors. Unfortunately, the speculation and rumors can be detrimental to the spirit of our community.
On Monday, November 30, project representatives will address a joint meeting of the Lee County Commission and the Fort Myers Beach Town Council at 1 p.m. at the Florida SouthWestern campus in Fort Myers (at College and Summerlin) to provide a forum for elected officials from both jurisdictions to listen and learn as we consider the project being proposed. This is ONLY a preliminary presentation designed to give both governments an overview of what the development group wishes to proceed with. This project will go through ALL appropriate and required zoning meetings with both our Local Planning agency and the Town Council where public comment will be taken.
Importantly for Beach residents, project representatives have also agreed to be available at open houses here on the island, to provide information, interact with residents, and answer questions. I realize that a meeting at 1pm on a Monday is difficult for many of you and am working on a follow up presentation here on the island in the evening when most residents will be able to attend. That date will be forthcoming as soon as plans are solidified. The developer has committed to scheduling additional meetings during high season, as well, to accommodate those who may not yet be in Town so that everyone remains current as the project concept evolves.
There’s absolutely no doubt that this proposal will be a catalyst for healthy debate about the future of Fort Myers Beach – and that’s a good thing. While redevelopment has long been contemplated for the downtown district, how it looks, how it’s implemented and how it impacts each of us is extremely important to our future as a Town.