FMB construction takes center stage at town hall meeting

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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – In a town hall meeting Tuesday, business owners and county leaders discussed adjusting construction schedules as a solution to dampened profits and increased congestion on Estero Boulevard.

Business owners wanted construction crews to work evenings, some said. The change would relieve concerns about road congestion during peak business hours, business owner Al Durret said.

“It would ease up traffic in the day time. We have our normal long traffic lines during the season every year. People expect that,” he said. “This is kind of a double-whamy along with the work being done on the road.”

The inconvenience of construction along the road took center stage during the meeting. The construction cones, traffic congestion and non-stop work are hurting profits, business owners said. Now with record rains and murky water from Lake Okeechobee releases, business owners fear visitors will avoid the beach.

“People aren’t going to come back next year between the water and the traffic,” one woman attending the town hall meeting said Tuesday.

Durret owns Fish Tale Marina on Estero Boulevard and said traffic is the worst he has seen since being on the beach for 30 years.

“It bothers me that some of the business owners on the beach are not able to run their businesses as efficiently as they should,” he said.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda said that traffic has not become more congested, but acknowledges that construction for desired upgrades presents other challenges.

“It’s a true dilemna. We want the project to happen. We want it to happen as quickly as it possibly can and yet we are inconvenienced by it,” Cereceda said. “Now what do you do with that bag of worms? What do you do?”

As the evening progressed, Cereceda made an effort to answer her own question, saying that cooperation among residents may lead to a solution.

“We’re all going to work together and figure out ways that we can help each other and help to alleviate some of the pressure that’s been on us through all these different things that are happening,” she said.

No decision was made at the town hall meeting, but there is a meeting scheduled for Wednesday. Cereceda said she hopes to come to a resolution by then.

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