TO: Local Planning Agency
FROM: Carol Cunningham
DATE: January 14, 1997
SUBJECT: Review of Previous Community Design Studies
Over the years that the Fort Myers Beach Community has been working together to bring about improvements to the livability and functioning of the community, a significant body of work has been produced which has continuing value in the Town's efforts to develop and implement a vision for the future. As a part of the comprehensive planning process, we have been gathering those resources from various County Departments and other entities in an attempt to build a "library" of foundation source material.
The following provides a summary of the work reviewed to date which has continuing applicability to formulating policy and furthering the implementation of community design and livability improvements. Of particular interest in advance of the "Designing Our Town" workshop with Victor Dover, are the analyses and recommendations of the Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) Working Papers prepared in May of 1993 and the University of Florida College of Architecture study prepared in July of 1991. Both these documents recommended Island-wide improvements as well as focusing on the Core Area. They both analyzed and incorporated, where appropriate, the data, analyses, and recommendations of all of the prior studies which are listed below in chronological order. Many of the University of Florida recommendations are incorporated into the WRT recommendations. Both documents are summarized below.
The Core Area Master Plan, which was subsequently prepared by WRT, provides the next level of specificity in terms of vision, policy and implementation recommendations for the Core Area. The Core Area Master Plan has received extensive public review, and portions of its recommendations have been adopted and implemented. Because the upcoming public workshop is focusing on areas of the Island other than the Core area, we have concentrated the summary herein on the analysis and recommendations for those areas other than the Core Area. We will revisit the Core Area Master Plan and the core area portions of the University of Florida plan in depth in approximately March of 1997 as a part of the comprehensive planning process, to evaluate and prioritize those recommendations not yet adopted.
Exhibits from both the University of Florida work and WRT's work for all areas of the Island, including the Core Area will be included as a part of the Gallery Walk exhibit at the "Designing Our Town" workshop.
RESOURCE DOCUMENTS (in chronological order)
Survey of Entire Length of Estero Boulevard from the old bridge and Center Street to the Big Carlos Pass Bridge. Includes aerials of same areas at 1" - 20' scale. Prepared by Duane Hall and Associates 11/15/79 for the then-proposed widening of Estero Boulevard. These surveys would need to be supplemented with field surveys and updated to accurately document right-of-way edges, utility locations and potential encroachments of private improvements into the right-of-way prior to developing engineering and construction documents for future projects. However, these surveys are quite useful as a reference for such planning exercises as: improving efficiency of trolley movements; testing the feasibility of various traffic calming options; testing the feasibility of creating additional sidewalk and bikepath areas, streetscape treatments, and in determining flood elevations at various points along Estero Blvd.
Pedestrian Mall Study Memorandum. Prepared by Harland Bartholomew and Associates, Inc. August, 1989.
Bowditch Point - Feasibility Study of General Parking Site Location. Prepared by GAI Consultants-Southeast, Inc. 1989. Contains an extensive field inventory of potential parking sites for the entirety of Estero Island and on San Carlos Island.
Preliminary Master Plan Bowditch Point Regional Park. Prepared by Herbert/Halback, Inc. December, 1989. Contains schematics and cross sections of improvements to Estero Boulevard from Lynn Hall Park to the Bowditch Point entrance for pedestrian and bicycle lanes. Contains recommendation for access to the park by ferry or water taxi.
Traffic Impact Statement Bowditch Point Regional Park. Prepared by GAI Consultants-Southeast, Inc. (1991)
Fort Myers Beach Project Phase I - Final Report. Prepared by The University of Florida College of Architecture. July, 1991. (see summary below).
Traffic Origin and Destination Survey. Prepared by Florida Transportation Engineering, Inc. February, 1993. Survey of 2500 motorists during last week of December 1992 to focus on place of residence, origin, and destination patterns.
Parking and Inventory Survey (Core Area). Prepared by Florida Transportation Engineering, Inc. February, 1993. Detailed parking utilization survey within the area defined by Estero Blvd. from Lagoon Street to Caroline Avenue and along Crescent Street and Old San Carlos Drive from Estero Blvd. to 1st Street (1741 existing parking spaces) and a more detailed hourly parking utilization survey for four representative Core Area parking lots.
Traffic Volume and Capacity on Estero Island. Prepared by Florida Transportation Engineering, Inc. March, 1993. Based on 1992 traffic counts.
Estero Boulevard Project: Working Paper 1 Inventory and Analysis; Working Paper 2 Problems and Opportunity Refinement. Prepared by Wallace Roberts and Todd. May, 1993. (see summary below)
Times Square Traffic Circulation Review. Prepared by Southwest Transportation Engineering, February 1994. Provides analysis and recommendations to provide some relief to the recurring gridlock:
Topographic Survey of Portion of Estero Boulevard: from the north end of Lynn Hall Park to south end of the Lani Kai: from Buccaneer Road to Big Carlos Pass Bridge. Includes aerials of same areas at 1" - 20' scale. Prepared by Ink Engineering, November, 1994. Basis for engineering and construction documents for CRA project Times Square Improvements and for sidewalks at the south end of the Island.
Construction documents prepared by WRT for proposed sidewalk and entry feature project at south end of the Island. These projects, as originally designed, have not been constructed. A more "generic" sidewalk, funded by reallocated federal funds, is scheduled for construction in 1998-99.
Estero Boulevard Times Square Construction Documents -- layout, survey, site furnishing, seating, planting, irrigation, grading, street lighting. Prepared by WRT and Pelican Engineering. November, 1995.
The following provides summaries of WRT's Working Papers and the University of Florida Study, both of which can be considered foundation documents upon which we can continue to build the community design and livability recommendations and measures to achieve the Town's vision.
SUMMARY OF COMMUNITY DESIGN RECOMMENDATIONS
Estero Boulevard Project: Working Paper 1 Inventory and Analysis; Working Paper 2 Problems and Opportunity Refinement. Prepared by Wallace Roberts and Todd. May, 1993.
Prior to preparing their working papers, during October of 1992, WRT met individually with a broad cross section of the Estero Island citizens as well as representatives of the CRA Planning Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, the Estero Island Civic Association, Board of Realtors, Historical Society, Times Square Merchants, PTA and Beach Voters Association in order to define issues, determine areas of agreement, and distinguish topics on which opinions were divided. In January 1993, the CRA and WRT held a community workshop and received input which refined the problems and opportunities they identified and defined specific implementation options.
The Working Papers analyze functional conditions and trends the length of Estero Boulevard and provide an analysis of right-of-way characteristics based on both field measurements and Lee County historical data. They provide a summary of regulatory constraints pertaining to flood elevation requirements. Spikowski Planning Associates has since conducted in-depth research into this topic and in cooperation with Victor Dover will provide further refined recommendations. As a part of the WRT study, Real Estate Research Consultants evaluated trends in the Estero Island tax base. This information, updated with recent data, can be useful as the town considers the potential of a downtown redevelopment agency (DRA) for the Core Area.
The Working Papers incorporated the above noted traffic studies prepared by Florida Transportation Engineering, Inc. From these studies, WRT drew the following conclusions:
Development Conditions and Trends
The Working Papers also described three development zones on the Island which are depicted WRT's Figures 1 and 2 and summarized below:
Island wide patterns
The WRT Working Papers assess the urban design framework of Estero Island utilizing the perceptions of the place, the arrangement of discrete neighborhoods and functional districts; the edges, views and landmarks that articulate and define them, and the characteristics of scale and form that make them unique. The WRT analysis divides the seven-mile length of Estero Boulevard into six distinct typologies as follows. (See WRT figure 3 and 4)
The study identifies "Activity Generators" defined as concentric 1/4 mile and mile radius rings which represent comfortable walking distances for purposeful pedestrian trips. These include: Bowditch Point; Time Square/Lynn Hall Park and the Pier; Bay Oaks Park/Winn Dixie Shopping Plaza; Santini Plaza; and Mid Island Marina.
Opportunities and Constraints (WRT figures 5 and 6)
The WRT Working Papers provide a summary of opportunities and constraints. WRT identifies 5 different Estero Boulevard typologies related to degree of constraint for traffic and pedestrian circulation and space for landscape enhancement.
Proposed Policy and Early Action Projects
The WRT working papers conclude with a list of early action project concepts which are first articulated as policy statements and then translated to specific potential action projects. These were proposed to be consistent with the financial resources (prior to incorporation and while still a CRA), community priorities and physical limitations.
As a part of the preparation of the comprehensive plan, these policy statements and the projects they suggest should be re-visited in the context of the Town's emerging Vision and community design and livability objectives.
Times Square Redevelopment
Estero Boulevard has been analyzed in the WRT report based on right-of-way conditions and surrounding development patterns and has been divided into nine prototypical sections for the purpose of defining improvement increments:
For each of the above nine sections specific improvements will include some or all of the following elements:
Landscaping - placement of street trees in available right of way, consistent with requirements for sightlines and "clear zones," with emphasis on continuity of a palm-lined Bay side edge treatment.
Utilities - correction of spot drainage deficiencies and the placement of utilities underground where the Boulevard is reconstructed as an "urban" section in the Core Area
Sidewalks - sidewalk widening and construction in order to provide a continuous 8 foot Bay side path and sidewalks on both sides in the Core Area
Lighting - construction of continuous pedestrian lighting to serve the pedestrian pathway along the length of the corridor.
Curbs - construction of curbs in the core area "urban section" and where necessary to correct drainage problems.
Signage - placement of directional signage at strategic locations and decorative Estero Boulevard street signs along the length of the Boulevard.
Site-Specific Boulevard Improvements
Gateway - North - special treatment of the Matanzas Bridge "touchdown" point. May include electronic marquee/signboards, specimen palm grove or symbolic icon/monument.
Gateway - South - special landscape feature placed on excess Bay side right of way at Carlos Point.
Times Square Plaza/Mall - the creation of a "village square" at the foot of the pier as a focal point for the Times Square pedestrian mall.
Times Square Traffic Manager - placement of an elevated traffic officer podium at Estero Boulevard and San Carlos.
Trolley Stops - the creation of prototype trolley stops with covered seating areas, signage and traffic pull-offs at the major destination points:
Crosswalk Signals - placement of pedestrian activated signals and striped crosswalks at key pedestrian-vehicular conflict points.
Fort Myers Beach Project Phase I - Final Report. Prepared by The University of Florida College of Architecture. July, 1991.
The University of Florida urban design analysis focused on the Times Square District, Estero Boulevard, and Matanzas Park and presented models and drawings representing solutions to help maintain and promote the small town character of the Island. These include:
The Estero Boulevard portion of the University of Florida project had as their objective to develop design ideas around beach and bay access points and to examine ideas to reduce traffic congestion along the roadway. Their recommendations include:
The Times Square portion of the study proposed three schemes for the future of the area: scheme one assumes minimal expansion of existing structures on grade and concentrates on the general beautification of the district; second scheme assumes that Old San Carlos will be developed incrementally with new structures raised the minimal 7 feet above existing grade; and a third scheme which proposes the construction of an elevated boardwalk which connects the new commercial/residential structures at an elevation which allows free passage over the existing cross streets. The model constructed as a part of this project depicts scheme three which was the most difficult to visualize (see figures 5 - 9).
The University of Florida Study explored design alternatives and locations for additional parking on the island to support the potential up-scale shops and proposed encouraging car storage off island with trolley or water taxi access; short term and expensive parking in Times Square; and a parking structure adjacent to the bridge which is accessed by three right turns off of the bridge. In addition all three schemes show the addition of a single tier of parking over the parking lot west of Snug Harbor to compensate for the parking removed by their proposed new amphitheater on the existing surface Bay side parking area.
The University of Florida's proposals for Matanzas Park, which refers to the area of the school, library, recreation center, and Matanzas Pass Preserve, are in the process of being realized with the development of the nature preserve land for educational and hands-on experience with the local ecology, the retention of the active recreational areas provided by the current park and school grounds, and the introduction of a public swimming pool and an Estero Island historic display area (see figure 10).