Bowditch Point Park on Fort Myers Beach, where dredging has been ongoing

FL - County approves $1.3 million for re-nourishment and maintenance of Fort Myers Beach

The Town of Fort Myers Beach will receive approximately $1.3 million for designing and permitting for beach re-nourishment, erosion monitoring, as well as beach and shoreline maintenance as part of 10 inter-local agreements approved by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners for $3.56 million worth of beach projects and maintenance work throughout the county.

The projects are being funded through tourist development taxes, administered by the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau.Robert Boykin, co-owner of the Pink Shell Resort, initiated a push to begin the beach re-nourishment project earlier this year with the Town of Fort Myers Beach and Lee County Government. In February, a beach erosion study from the area around Bowditch Point Park to Lynn Hall Memorial Park was approved. The county had budgeted $1.1 million this year for beach and shoreline monitoring.

According to the resolution approved Tuesday, $997,625 of the $1.3 million for the Town of Fort Myers Beach will go towards designing and permitting for beach re-nourishment.

The last re-nourishment project was done in 2011 and Boykin and hotel management have provided photos to the town and county showing the extent to which the beach has experienced erosion since. The beaches in town have undergone re-nourishment projects about once each decade since the 1980’s.

The projects are “hugely important to the economy,” Boykin said. He expects the effects of Hurricane Eta to have accelerated the erosion of the beaches.

Boykin said the beaches can’t be ignored.

“This is why people come to Florida,” he said.

The other agreements are for the county and the Barrier Island Parks Society, Captiva Erosion Prevention District, City of Cape Coral and City of Sanibel. The Tourist Development Council unanimously approved beach & shoreline funding recommendations for fiscal year 2020-21 totaling $9,107,155 across 16 projects throughout Lee County in August.

The City of Sanibel received approval for the largest expenditure – $1.6 million for the maintenance of beach park facilities. Sanibel will also receive $40,000 for beach erosion monitoring.

City of Sanibel Manager Judith Zimomra said the maintenance is an annual allocation from the county’s tourist development tax dollars. The county funding covers about 37% of the approximately $4.3 million spent by the city on beach maintenance each year. The costs include personnel and equipment operations.

The funds go towards taking care of 15.5 miles of beach the city maintains year-round including the county’s Bowman’s Beach Park and Turner Beach on Captiva. The maintenance work covers 119 acres of land and also includes shade structures, fitness trails, restrooms, dune protection and parking lots.

The inter-local agreements also include $323,526 for a Captiva Beach re-nourishment project and $72,800 for the Captiva Beach Park maintenance with the Captiva Erosion Prevention District.

The City of Cape Coral received $140,000 for maintenance of its beach parks. Cape Coral Parks Superintendent Matthew Creed said the funds are to pay for year-round daily maintenance of Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve and Yacht Club Community Park Public Beach.

The commissioners approved $33,957 for state park utility vehicles at the Barrier Island Parks Society to conduct maintenance of the beach at Cayo Costa and Gasparilla Island State Parks, and Gasparilla Island Lighthouse dune protection and walking trail maintenance.

See article.