Let’s Go FMB pier committee member Allen Shanosky laid into the Lee County Board of Commissioners last night over the Fort Myers Beach pier rebuild. He said the commissioners had no vision and Lee County has stopped taking his calls.
Following Hurricane Ian, Shanosky researched several bridges up and down the state of Florida. He says the Fort Myers Beach pier, which was totally destroyed by Hurricane Ian, was the 3rd smallest pier in the state of Florida. He’s been pushing Lee County, which owns the pier and Lynn Hall Park, to build a much bigger pier. Although he now refers to his bigger pier as “less than average pier.”
To this point all indications from Lee County are that the pier will be rebuilt to as close to the way it was. The reason for that is funding. FEMA pays for structures as long as they are built back the way they were before the storm. In the case of the pier, FEMA will most likely also pay for a more resilient, higher pier, to try to prevent the next storm from wiping it out again.
That’s just not good enough for Shanosky and the Let’s Go FMB pier committee. Shanosky said Thursday night that, “None of these (Lee County) Commissioners live on this island. They will not take our calls. Does any Commissioner have the vision to see beyond their term?”
Shanosky believes a new pier built back the way it was will cost about $8 million and that his much bigger pier idea would cost an additional $10 million. The Town of Fort Myers Beach has no money to contribute to Lee County toward a bigger pier, although Shanosky says the money is there but the will of the County Commissioners to find the money is not.
Shanosky suggests Lee County use a portion of the $55 million set aside to administer the more than $1.2 billion in CDBGR HUD funds it will distribute over the next few years. Or, he says, TDC funds could be used over the next 4 years to help fund a much bigger pier. A third option, according to Shanosky, is for Lee County to apply for a Local Funding Initiative Request grant from the Florida Legislature. He says it’s a 4-page application that the Commissioners simply refuse to apply for.
In late January, the Lee County Procurement Management Department chose international company Stantec Consulting Services to design and permit (not build) the Fort Myers Beach pier. It’s the first step in what’s expected to be a 4-year process to rebuild the structure.
The next step is for Lee County Board of Supervisors to negotiate a contract with Stantec to begin the design and permit work for the pier. The item is not expected to come before the Board of Commissioners for approval until April.
To this point all indications from Lee County are that the pier will be rebuilt to as close to the way it was. The reason for that is funding.
On Tuesday, Fort Myers Beach Town Councilwoman Karen Woodson plans to speak at the Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting. She plans to tell Commissioners that the Fort Myers Beach Town Council supports Lee County building a bigger, wider, more resilient pier. Last month the Town Council voiced support for raising the parking fees in Lynn Hall Park from $2.00 per hour to $5.00 per hour to help cover the cost of a bigger pier. Fort Myers Beach does not own Lynn Hall Park, Lee County does.