Fort Myers Beach to offer free parking through Sept. 10

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The City of Fort Myers Beach is changing up the rules to give residents and tourists an extra incentive to visit.

Fort Myers Beach is waiving parking fees from now until Sept. 10 because visitation as been so slow.

Lee County Parks & Recreation is also waiving parking fees through the same time period at Lynn Hall Memorial Park, 950 Estero Blvd. and Bowditch Point Park, 50 Estero Blvd. Both parks are located on Fort Myers Beach.

Since red tide has plagued southwest Florida’s coast, the beach has become a ghost town. This has ultimately put a damper on businesses.

“Very, very slow time,” said employee of The Doghouse Victoria Wissinger. “Last two weeks have really put a big dent in our sales.”

Beach goers can now park in spots owned by the town free of charge. This doesn’t include private lots or Lee County-owned parking.

Free parking includes metered lots located on Old San Carlos Boulevard, Estero Boulevard, Center Street and Fifth Street. As well as all beach access streets and in the lot under the Matanzas Pass Bridge. The cost would normally be $3 per hour.

While some people are hopeful the free parking will be a helpful incentive.

“Anything they can do to alleviate a little nit of stress on people’s pockets, and help draw some business back out there would be nice,” Wissinger said.

Other businesses, like privately owned parking lots fear their parking woes will only worsen, but agree that it’s all part of doing business.

“We have to sacrifice the parking to get business ramped up again, so I think we’re going to have to grin and bear it for the summer and hope that this gives us a kick-start for the beginning start of the season,” said private parking attendant Jim Booth.

Lynn Hall Memorial Park near Fort Myers Beach Pier is owned and maintained by Lee County and does not qualify for free parking.

The council will meet again on Sept. 10 to reassess the red tide situation.

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