Apartment development construction in downtown Fort Myers causes concerns on historical ground

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz

The construction of an apartment complex in Fort Myers is causing controversy.

Critics say it could be disturbing human remains and historical artifacts.

The State Division of Historical Resources said developers removed a historic marker from the site.

The project is underway near First, Second and Fowler streets in downtown Fort Myers. Right now, it’s simply a noisy construction site.

Just a few years ago, it was the site of Grace United Methodist Church.

Years before that part of the original Fort Myers.

The State Division of Historical Resources sent a letter to the city stating that “members of the public have disturbed historic materials and artifacts at the site.”

Fort Myers city spokeswoman Liz Bello-Matthews said city leaders first need to understand what’s wrong before they can make it right.

“We are contacting the state so that we can gain clarification as to the points that are made in the letter, so that we can better understand what the step forward should be,” Bello-Matthews said. “We’re under the impression that some bottles may have been recovered and maybe some beads or something along those lines. But we have not been contacted by historical preservation group that has the authority to deem something historical percent.”

Bello-Matthews said Fort Myers will not stand in the way of preserving history.

A project underway near First, Second and Fowler streets in downtown Fort Myers is causing controversy after the state is alleging someone disturbed historic materials and artifacts. (CREDIT: WINK News)

“That is so pertinent to the identity of what the city of Fort Myers is, you know, our history is what makes us interesting and charming,” Bello-Matthews said.

The city is still waiting for the State Division of Historical Resources to say what was done wrong.

It has also asked the developer for a copy of the ground-penetrating radar report which should help clarify what’s down in the dirt.

“The developer followed all the steps that they were under the impression that they had to follow, and the city did as well. So if there are new steps that are required by the State of Florida, we have to know clearly what those are,” Bello-Matthews said.

“If there is a historical relic bins of any kind, not just in this project, but in this location, you know, in any location of the city, we want to preserve it,” she added.

Bello-Matthews said the city wants to look at the results of the ground-penetrating radar reporting done by the developer which should be able to detect anything below the ground whether it’s an artifact or a pipe.

“If we can get our eyes on it, which is the most important thing. And then, you know, that might actually end this entire conversation,” Bello-Matthews said.

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