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Town Council candidate question of the week

February 12, 2020
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Fort Myers Beach voters will fill three town council seats on Tuesday, March 17. Seven candidates are seeking three available seats on the five-member elected board. The top three vote getters will fill seats to be vacated by Mayor Anita Cereceda and Councilmember Joanne Shamp, who are not running, as well as the seat currently held by Councilmember Butcher, who is seeking re-election. Voters will also decide whether the terms should be three-year terms or four-year terms. In addition, voters will be asked to decide if the town should change its elections from March to November, which would make these seats approximately eight months longer than a normal term.

What should the town do to alleviate its parking and traffic issues?

Dan Allers

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Fort Myers Beach is going to have heavy traffic during high season, that is just our reality. Solutions I'll pursue to mitigate, not eliminate some of the congestion: 1) Implement and market a mobile parking application to assist an individual in identifying available space, provide directions and make a payment. This will reduce the number of distracted drivers navigating our streets looking for space. 2) We have made significant investments in our infrastructure, now let's take the next steps necessary to insure that our sidewalks and bike paths are safe, sufficiently marked and lighted to encourage alternatives to vehicular traffic. 3) Work with area businesses and Chambers of Commerce to market our island as pedestrian and cyclist friendly and promote rideshare programs from the local airports.

Jim Atterholt

Traffic and parking have long been a serious problem and any candidate who promises to solve it completely should be considered suspect. We can, however, help to mitigate these challenges. The Mayor and the town have been in serious negotiations with the county on how best to channel traffic just before the bridge on the north end. I welcome this new plan and will reserve judgement until all the details are made known. In the interim, I support the council's efforts to increase the law enforcement presence to help direct traffic. Additionally, searching for an open parking place often adds to our traffic troubles. New technology should be employed to help folks find open parking places and inform them as to which spots are filled.

Robert "Bob" Burandt

The left turn lane off of Estero should be restricted to emergency vehicles. People would learn to turn right onto Crescent Street if they wanted to go north onto Estero. After making the right turn off the bridge onto Estero there should be two lanes, one to turn right and one to go straight. I would look into a round-about at the foot of the bridge. I realize that is County Road but something should be done. Further the bridge is three lanes, if the structure will handle it all three lanes should be used. If we expedite parking by making it more available that should help move traffic. The town should consider a public-private venture if they are unable or unwilling to build a parking garage. When construction is completed on Estero, traffic should move a little faster.

Bruce Butcher (Incumbent)

The town is working with a consultant to hopefully develop a parking app. This will enable people to see what spots are available and reduce traffic congestion looking for spots. To make trolleys effective from Lee county off island parking we need the Florida Department of Transportation to allow a dedicated trolley lane on San Carlos Boulevard to encourage people to see a time benefit using trolleys. In St. Pete they have a people ferry that runs from Tampa for $5. Wouldn't that be nice from Fort Myers, Cape Coral and maybe Estero. Of course an additional option would be a parking garage.

Forrest Critser

We as Islanders have what everyone else wants: the beach, the sand, the sun, well you know what I mean. Island paradise. Unlike Mackinac Island; we have cars and trucks and tour buses and Lee-Tran buses and trams and construction vehicles and delivery vehicles and a few resident's vehicles (although a lot of our residents are smart enough to walk or bike to get around. To make matters worse we only have one through street: Estero Boulevard. Also, we only have two entrances and exits on and off of the island. We have the traffic because our tourist industry demands it. We can't solve it; we can only try to make it better and endure it part of the year. More and better traffic control by law enforcement, less jaywalking and completion of the highway project.

David Drumm

Where do we start? With three or more council members that recognize the multifaceted issues. More effective traffic control personnel. Uniform parking prices to control window shopping for a cheap spot. Encouraging more parking spots via exceptions where logical. Establish a qualified citizen group to help us analyze and offer solutions. Recognize the impact of new business on our beach now while there is time to prepare. All of the above and more.

Billy Veach

People in cars have little value to businesses and residents. We should emphasize efficient delivery of people to the island over cars. There is an opportunity with San Carlos Boulevard as it feeds onto the beach. The county is looking to fit bicycle lanes while keeping the current lanes by making them narrower. I would propose that they remove the planned bike lanes and create a bike and trolley lane for on island traffic, and a Sanibel style multiuse lane out of the sidewalk going off-island.

This trolly lane be open for county trolleys and private, registered vans. Having people waiting in cars watch trolleys pass them would be a strong motivator to get people in trolleys and leave their cars off-island.



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