The Council of Sanibel met this past Tuesday, August 4th, at their City Hall, and received a water quality update from James Evans, their Director of Natural Resources.
The Fort Myers Beach Town Council returned from their July break this past Monday, August 3rd, and settled into their newly renovated chamber at Town Hall. Vice Mayor Dan Andre took the reins at the meeting that morning, as Mayor Anita Cereceda was absent.
Aside from the expanded Fort Myer Beach Town Hall, the Council reconvened amidst another big transformation on the island, with the replacement of waterlines beneath Estero Boulevard taking place right across the street.
However, waterline replacement will not be the only change Gulf Beach Road will see in the near future, as Council voted unanimously to approve a bid for the construction of a dinghy dock and paddle craft launch on the road’s bay access. The access is located near the Topps Supermarket.
“During Cruisers Appreciation Day, the one thing overwhelmingly asked for was a dinghy dock there, so people could get to the grocery store,” Vice Mayor Andre said.
The bid to construct the additions to the bay access was submitted by Infinite Construction. The project is funded through a grant by the Lee County Tourist Development Council.
The Council then held the first reading of an ordinance that would align town elections with the presidential primaries.
“State law does allow us to amend our charter,” Town Attorney Dan Rooney said. The stated reasons Fort Myers Beach is pursuing these adjusted dates is to lower costs and have higher voter turnout for the upcoming town elections. “This may affect some of the changes we were proposing for charter review, but at the next one or two meetings we will be discussing those changes, and how it impacts the date.”
The proposed change would move the election from the second Tuesday to the third Tuesday in March. The ordinance will also adjust the qualifying period for local candidates to reflect the changed date, and will only affect town elections that fall on years with presidential primaries. Otherwise, elections will fall back to their normal schedule.
The Council unanimously voted to move the ordinance to a second hearing at the August 17th meeting.
Vice Mayor Andre also spoke at the meeting regarding a Fort Myers Beach resolution supporting a statewide ban on hydraulic and acid fracturing.
“The reason for this resolution is that we have some state representatives that said they’re trying to regulate fracking and protect us,” Andre said. “The bill they’re pushing says that any chemicals you’re using for fracking has to be disclosed to a federal database. The bill next to that, which they don’t tell you about, is one that says if you regard any of the chemicals in that process as proprietary or trade secret, you do not have to disclose it.”
“This is our island saying no, and we’re hoping to get a little momentum with this,” Andre said. “Maybe we can get something going.”
During the Consent Agenda, The Council voted unanimously to appoint Mayor Cereceda as the voting delegate to the 89th Annual Florida League of Cities. The conference will take place August 13th through the 15th in Orlando.
Emergency services on Fort Myers Beach have received an upgrade, as each of the three stations received brand new ambulances this past Tuesday, August 11th.
It looked like smooth sailing for the passage of the Water Resources bill HB 7003 this past spring in the Florida Legislature. Sponsored by state representative Matt Caldwell, the bill dealt with modernizing water regulatory systems as well as numerous water issues. However, the bill died on the senate floor in late April when Florida’s Senate and House could not come to an agreement on the state budget and closed their session a few days early.
Dakota Peoples is not your typical teenager. To be perfectly honest, the young North Fort Myers High School student has more on her plate than most adults. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, she came to Fort Myers in middle school, and it is a move that has been to this area’s benefit. She’s not even in her senior year at high school, yet this year alone she has spent over 400 hours helping out the communities of Lee County on issues ranging from disadvantaged children to sea turtles.
When someone suffers through a terrible disaster such as a fire, a familiar face can help put them at ease. Captain David Reno of the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District noted that being closely linked to a tight-knit community is a great advantage in doing his job. Not so much for the day-to-day operations of fighting fires or responding to medical emergencies, but in providing comfort to the people afflicted by tragedy.
The heavy, sustained rainfall that rolled through our area a few weeks back was a dismal time for many people who came to this corner of Florida for sun and sand. Few could say they had it worse than the sea turtles nesting on the beaches of Lee County’s barrier islands, though.
Leprosy reports have spiked in Florida, and the fault lies with one peculiar creature. Armadillos have been linked to nine cases of leprosy (also known as Hansen’s Disease) in the state so far this year. Usually, the state averages four reported cases per year.
The tough, armored mammals are natural carriers of the disease according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The Center says that those that risk of contracting the disease from these animals is very low, but recommends avoiding contact with them in order to eliminate all chances. Most infections come from handling the creatures or eating their meat.
Contrary to popular belief, leprosy itself does not cause limbs to fall off. It is a granulomatous disease that targets the upper respiratory tract, and does cause skin lesions to those afflicted. Loss of fingers, toes, and other limbs are the result of secondary infections, to which the body becomes more vulnerable due to the leprosy itself.
Armadillos easily contract leprosy due to their low body temperatures, making them ideal hosts for the bacteria that cause the disease, Mycobacterium leprae.
Business owners and residents packed into the Council Chambers at Fort Myers Beach Town Hall this past Friday, August 7th, where a lively discussion of the impacts of the waterline replacement project took place. Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker and County Manager Roger Desjarlais stood alongside several representatives from the Town of Fort Myers Beach and the construction companies involved with the project took questions, suggestions and complaints for over an hour.
Estero Boulevard will be seeing the first of many upcoming construction projects at the end of July, as construction starts to replaces the waterlines beneath Fort Myers Beach main thoroughfare between July 27th and 31st. The reFRESH Waterlines Project will begin by installing the new water mains on the beach side of the Boulevard over the month of August. This construction will occur from Times Square to the Red Coconut RV Park.
The next leg of the project is projected to begin in September, with the construction of waterlines between Times Square and Crescent Street. After these lines are tested, individual properties will be connected to the new water system.
During construction, residents and visitors will need to be aware of both planned and emergency water shut-offs. While the participating governments and businesses hope to keep these events minimized, everyone in the affected area will need to watch for flyers announcing the planned shut-offs. Keeping bottled water on hand is suggested for any unplanned disruption to the water service on the island.
Active construction will take place during weekdays from 7 am to 7pm, with lane closures on the Boulevard expected. Weekend and nighttime construction will take place as deemed necessary. People commuting to and from Fort Myers Beach should be prepared for Traffic pattern changes and disruptions throughout the next few months.
Current planned changed to traffic include lane closures as lane stripes are removed and replaced on the Boulevard. This will take place during the evenings of July 27th and 28th, from 6 pm to 6 am. Wednesday, July 29th, closures are to be expected as asphalt is milled and temporary drainage is constructed. This will take place during the day, from 7 am to 7 pm.
From August 3rd onward, two work zones will be set up as two crews work on the Boulevard simultaneously to install water mains. The first crew will be working between Crescent Street and Carolina Avenue, and the other will be located between Pearl Street and Gulf Beach Road. The southbound lane of the Boulevard will be closed off during this time, and delays are expected as all traffic is routed into the northbound lane, with flaggers alternating and managing the flow of vehicles.
Following the completion of this project, the Estero Boulevard Improvements Project will begin sometime in the fall of this year.