TO: Local Planning Agency
FROM: Carol Cunningham
DATE: February 11, 1997
SUBJECT: Summary of Input From "Designing Our Town" Workshop
The following provides a summary of the input provided by the community members who
participated in the "Designing Our Town" workshop, held on January 31 and February 1,
Groups were asked to first look at the big picture, identifying the sensitive sites, areas that
function as neighborhood centers, naturally occurring focus points, and "postcard" locations
which represent the best of what's here. Groups were asked to draw and propose what
would be ideal, to consider how "lost space" could be recaptured and pedestrian links be
strengthened, and to identify what is important to be preserved or enhanced. Each group
was then asked to summarize their proposals into five main ideas.
The summary draws from the presentations from each group at the end of Saturday's
sessions and from notes taken in the group meetings both by participants and facilitators. The
summary is organized by topic.
In addition, 13 comment forms have already been returned by workshop participants and
were reviewed for their input into this summary. Copies of all comment forms and any other
correspondence directed to the LPA throughout the process will be provided to you as a
part of your packet materials and will be kept on file as a part of the public record.
SUMMARY OF WORKSHOP PROPOSALS BY TOPIC
- Improve the quality of travel on Estero Blvd. and improve the transportation system
for all areas.
- Consider smaller trolleys, a change over to electric trolleys, and/or use of trams
throughout the Island. Create more pull-offs and other measures to move people
- Resurrect the idea of a mid-Island bridge.
- Create a usable third lane on the bridge which can be reversed during peak traffic
periods, governed by lights. Provide a dedicated lane off the bridge straight into a
- Increase parking fees to encourage mass transit.
- Put meters on beach accesses.
- Traffic calming measures suggested include:
- Force traffic to slow at corners (corner by the Church of the Ascension good
place for traffic calming measures).
- Provide planter islands or raised pavement areas in the road to slow traffic and
serve as pedestrian sanctuaries.
- Narrow streets in strategic places.
- Avoid use of speed bumps.
- Encourage establishment of a water taxi system with potential station locations at Bay
end of Old San Carlos, Bowditch Point, Matanzas Preserve, Long Estate, mid-island,
and Black Island.
Improved Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities
- Provide sidewalks on one side of Estero Blvd. and bikepaths on the other, if feasible.
Second choice is to provide one facility with a clearly delineated separation, off of the
- Expand right-of-way when possible for the purpose of enhancing sidewalks,
bikepaths, and landscaping (not to increase capacity for autos, with the possible
exception of extending the middle turn lane for the length of the island).
- Make crosswalks safer and more-user friendly through such measures as push button
(demand) lights and textured materials to change road surface to indicate crosswalks
(bricks or pavers).
- Develop a path on beachfront for bikes, runners, roller blades (and ramps for roller
blades) etc. (Group notes indicated that there was some feeling that some of this
concept might not be feasible.)
- Provide walking and bike path route that meanders off Estero Blvd., possibly
beginning at the Old San Carlos parking lot and connecting to the Long Property,
possibly bridging the Matanzas Preserve etc. Provide rest room stops periodically.
- Provide "oasis" to stop and sit as walking or biking down the island, possibly in
combination with trolley stops. Logical location is at crosswalks, particularly those at
the beach access points. Amenities could range from landscaping and benches to a
small neighborhood commercial node with shops and a cafe.
Streetscape/Beautification--Improvements to Estero Blvd. Frontage.
- Line the length of Old San Carlos Drive and Estero Blvd. with palm trees, decorative
street lamps, flowering materials, with utilities undergrounded the entire length of the
- Provide better looking benches with no advertising (painted benches or in same style
as street lamps).
- Provide an overall plan for enhanced public and private landscaping to guide
incremental improvements. Prepare a Town "guidebook" and enlist a volunteer "Town
Arborist" to provide expert advice on landscaping options and desirable plant
material. Landscape enhancements should be based on the theme and guidelines for
both public and private property.
- Emulate Sanibel Island's landscape palette concept to regulate landscaping.
- Standardize town architectural specifications for planning.
- Establish a strict sign ordinance.
- Provide mechanisms to facilitate the improvement/renovation of abandoned buildings
or require their demolition.
- Allow limited and small-scale commercial uses in pods. Utilize specifically designed
pod development standards in designated areas, standards consistent with the
surrounding neighborhood, with residential above work places encouraged.
- Remove real estate rental signs and replace with centralized signs saying "see your
- Need better buffering for the marina and other heavy commercial uses, utilizing natural
- Throughout Estero Blvd. encourage facelift for commercial uses, maximize view
corridors and beach accesses, create mini parks.
- Move forward on Main Street Program for the core area. Finish out Old San Carlos
concept and then do a Phase II and III Main Street program moving down Estero
Blvd. with a tax increment district for each.
- Consider an attractively designed parking garage in the old town area (similar to that
- Implement the plan for Old San Carlos as our Main Street (as in Key West). Need
visual and attractive anchors on each end.
- Consider second level pedestrian cross-overs.
- Make the area beneath the bridge more user-friendly by providing amenities such as
Bay Oaks and Surrounding Neighborhoods
- Create a government complex as the "heart of the Island" at Bay Oaks, capitalizing on
the historic cottages, revitalizing them for such use as part of the government complex.
Expand access around the area to back of Bay Oaks and Playworks, soften with shell
road, island vegetation, emphasize pedestrian nature.
- Expand the "heart of the Island" to extend to both the Bay and Gulf. Perhaps add a
pier on the Gulf side.
- The expanded area can become the recreational and community center, "civic center"
of the Island. Consider buying out the entire block for a wider street (School Street),
nice signage, and landscaping for the entrance.
- Encourage establishment of additional cultural uses in the area, for example a live
theater or performing arts center.
- Perhaps add a shopping area into the mix of uses in the expanded area.
- Promote a face lift/revitalization of old neighborhoods. Split blocks to create a village
feeling. Add picket fences, low lighting, softened landscaping.
Villa Santini and Environs
- Expand the present use at Villa Santini to become a focal point or Town Center South
concept to include such uses as a national chain supermarket, branch library, post
office, EMS, dry cleaners, veterinarian.
- Consider another street market mid-island.
- Buy the marina behind Villa Santini and vacant lot next to it.* Tie all together as a
village center. Encourage a facade face lift, include a public bus parking area. Tie in
the proposed new Eckerd's with the expanded concept. *Note that several people
in their written forms commented on how much they saw the existing marina as
a community asset which is valued in its present form and should be visually
linked to the Villa Santini.
- Provide sidewalk and separate bike path connection to, in front of, and along west
side of parking lot of Villa Santini Plaza with landscaping, wider entrance, and
cut-throughs where current walkways are. Paths should be extended to southern end
of island and lined with palms.
- Redesign parking area with a centrally located hub of palms and plantings with
walkways in all 4 directions separating the parking spaces and add palms lining the
sidewalk/bike path. Carry landscaping concept to bank site adjoining Estero Blvd.
and the condo complex immediately to the north.
- Propose remodeling stores from 2 single runs to three separated groupings split at the
3 existing "alleys." Add decorative roof line and facades with a "Seaside Look."
- Alternative concept is to consider two stories and additional buildings in a "Key West"
style and enhance with bus shelters, park with swings, and a view corridor of the
marina and water behind.
- Need to address vehicular turn into Lenell Road from Estero Blvd. in connection with
Eckerd's or other potential new development at site of vacated bank. Would like
potential new development at that site and the adjoining Cap Plaza to carry out design
theme proposed for a renovated Villa Santini.
- Utilize the existing vacant piece of land where the theater was proposed as a passive
park. Need a rest room for joggers.
- Town should plan to acquire the six tennis courts just east of Villa Santini.
- Line with palms the extension of the golf course along Bay Beach Drive.
- Consider opening the Bay end of the canal between Lenell Road and the Estero Cove
property which is presently cut off by a finger of mangroves.
- Install a bridge over Little Estero (the lagoon south of the Holiday Inn) to provide a
more direct access to the beach for the condos "trapped" by the lagoon.
- Need better access to the beach at the south end, need public access and small park
on the Gulf, parking for fishing on the bay side of the bridge.
- Suggested options for future use: keep as is; beach park; town hall; would be a better
site for convention/conference center than either Virginia Street or Bowditch as
Bowditch/Diamondhead Land Swap Issues
The opinions expressed included:
- That the ideal option would be for the Town to have both the Virginia Beach property
and Bowditch Point in its entirety for park use
- That a park at Virginia Beach would be good.
- That although development at Bowditch may require 6 -7 acres of environmentally
sensitive land, Mariner's demonstrated experience can best handle such a
development with minimum impact. The positive aspects of their proposal are the
development of a Beach-to-Bay park, improvement of the waterfront on the bay side,
and high quality design that furthers the Town's design and architectural objectives.
- That the traffic impact on the Town from a convention/conference center would be
less if located at Bowditch than at Virginia Avenue.
- That Bowditch should be kept intact and perhaps the Town could utilize bond funds
to purchase Virginia Avenue site.
- That parking spaces should be added to Bowditch.
- That more information is needed before opinions can be crystallized.
Suggested for Public Acquisition
- Many groups stated that the Town should plan ahead to preserve property for public
use including considering the purchase of properties.
- The following is a summary of various suggestions that were made as things the Town
should purchase. (These were made in isolation of each other in various group
discussions and do not represent any degree of consensus.)
- the site where theater was proposed for use as park, parking, trolley pull-offs.
- miniature golf course
- Virginia Avenue site
- The marina behind Villa Santini and vacant lot next to it.
- The six tennis courts just east of Villa Santini and the golf course.
- Property adjacent to existing beach accesses (where available) for purpose of
expanding beach accesses.
- Make Little Estero Island into a passive park such as a bird sanctuary, fishing area,
nature preserve, photo opportunities, etc.
- Ask Historic Society to identify and catalog all historic sites and buildings.
- Regarding development rights following a storm: If multi-story condominiums were
affected, regulations should be in place to accommodate the same number of units but
at lower heights and spread out into a larger footprint (some disagreement as to
whether re-building should be allowed at all on the Gulf side).
- The following are creative pieces that emerged from Saturday's session:
Our new town will blend from head to toe.
(Our Town Complex) becomes the heart of our soul.
(Healthy arteries pulse) by bike or foot.
On the map of great destinations, we will be put!
Proposal for a bumper Sticker:
Take Heart in FMB! (insert heart drawing)
"Public relations" ideas for the Town:
Small Town, Big Heart.
Enjoy the best of life in our town without additives. Nothing
to add, just you and yours. It's pure, it's simple, it's right, it's
better. It's Fort Myers Beach in the NATURAL nature
setting that nurtures your life, "Soul," "Spirit," All of You.
If you're passing through enjoy the view. If you can stay,
enjoy a new way of life in a Natural style, stroll, walk, job,
run, swim, lie in the sun, fish, tennis, volleyball, shuffle board,
golf, boating, basketball, lay back, slow down, get personal,
enjoy each other, this Island cares, this Island shares, enjoy
shores, air, sun and fun in a better life styles. A rich heritage,
a promising future, and "Have a Great Day."
SUMMARY OF COMMENT FORMS
Below is an overview of items raised in the comments forms submitted to date. The
comments covered a wide range and are attached for your review. Many comments are
included in the topics covered above; however, many of the comments offered a range of
ideas unique from each other.
- Two (of the thirteen) comments forms provided alternative ways of thinking about the
- "A vision for all the tomorrows" or "Meeting the challenge of the future"; and
- A suggestion to come up with a condensation of the vision like Sanibel did with
a focus on the word "park."
(See the attached comment sheets for the full text of the suggestions.)
- Other items addressed in the comment forms included:
- Emphasis by several commenters that they value the Fish Tale Marina and
didn't want to leave the implication that this marina should be gone, but rather
to visually link it to the Villa Santini.
- Concern over the capacity of the Town to grow and to deal with the impacts of
growth in surrounding areas.
- Suggestions for code enforcement and speeding enforcement.
- Proposal for an elevated cable or rail system.
- Concern for traffic and over-development in relation to limited infrastructure.
- Proposed addition to wording of the preliminary draft goal for Conservation
and Coastal Management: "To coordinate with the county, state, and federal
governments the measures needed to protect our natural resources."