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New view delights Delmar residents

December 27, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It took seven years for the residents of Delmar Avenue to get what they wanted, and all they really wanted was a bench or two and a view to the water.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach finished building their dream Dec. 5: a small observation deck for the residents to sit and look out over the bay, and a sandy, clean kayak launch next to it.

"Everybody thinks its great," said Delmar resident, Jim Maxham.

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With a state permit, the town was able to trim back the mangroves and provide residents with a more clear view of Estero Bay.

He's excited to stop sending email after email to the town to get the issue resolved and just enjoy his street and its new view.

"I must have sent out 500 emails about that park," he said. "They're so happy to get rid of me."

In 2010, the Lee County Tourist Development Council built a "park" at the end of their street. It cost $27,000 of tourist tax dollars for a small platform with three rails, no bench, and no view out to the bay.

Residents say they weren't consulted about what was going at the end of their street, and what ended up being there was less than pleasing.

"You couldn't even put a bench there, it wasn't wide enough," said Linda Edson, another resident. "It wasn't practical or useful at all."

The neighborhood started to approach the town, asking them to fix a problem the TDC had created.

Maxham said in a previous Observer story that he's been able to build three houses in the past seven years, but not get a small deck rebuilt for his community.

The mangroves also started encroaching on the view and crowding out any enjoyment of the waterfront.

The town agreed to take the project on, but it took some time for it to happen. In the summer of 2016, the town held neighborhood meetings to get input on what Delmar did want. By summer of 2017, it was finishing up the permits needed, and by December, the final product finally arrived.

"It's very nice. I walk down there almost every day with the dogs," Edson said.

Some of the residents of the street are kayakers, and Edson said they've told her how happy they are to have a clean, sandy kayak launch right at the end of their street. Before, the launch was hard to get to and the water at the end was filled with muck. But the town added some rock and new sand.

"I think everybody likes it," Edson said. "They opened it up so you can see the water."

It's remained a residential community space. While there is a kayak launch, there is no public parking available.

The new Delmar deck cost $28,400, said Chelsea O'Reilly, interim public works director.

Coconut and Hercules Avenue residents are still waiting for their neighborhood improvements.

The two streets' docks were torn down in 2015 by town staff, who cited complaints and disrepair as the reason for the demolition. At the outcry of the neighborhoods, who valued the docks as part of their community, the town agreed to rebuild them. Town staff also held public meetings with these residents in 2016, but nothing has been built yet.

Hercules Avenue is also an outfall street for the Estero Boulevard center lane storm water drain. It has to get a seawall at the end of the street as part of that outfall, so its dock can't be build until that work is complete.

But O'Reilly said the coastal marine engineers are writing up a bid "as we speak" and the bid will be put out within the first few weeks of January 2018 to find a contractor to build the docks. In March, former town manager Jim Steele had a shortlist of 11 contractors that could do the job.

"We're hoping to get that seawall expedited, but we'll see," she said.



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