Fort Myers Beach hopes to be back to normal this time next year

Writer: Matthew Seaver

Back up and running within a year. That is the plan from the vice mayor of Fort Myers Beach as they continue to recover from the destruction of Ian.

The former mayor of Fort Myers Beach has a five-year plan to rebuild, which has some people rethinking how long they may stay on the island.

It’s hard to think about rebuilding when recovery is the only “Re” still in sight, but the mayor and everyone who lives or works on Fort Myers Beach needs a reason to have hope.

The goal is to bring the town back by Thanksgiving 2023.

“We are bringing the heartbeat back to our favorite place,” said Melody King, who loves Fort Myers Beach. “Bring the fun back to fort Myers beach!”

The town may be hurting, but it won’t break. Not while King and Mayor Dan Allers are around.

“We’re going to do everything we can to be open, probably not this season for regular business, but next season,” said Allers.

That’s a big ask considering the big problems facing the town’s rebuild. In one of his first sit-down interviews since being named the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, Allers talked about what he sees as the foundation for the future.

“The biggest thing we have to do is keep our culture. We have to keep who we are,” Allers said.

That starts with, “A vision on how we’re going to rebuild Times Square. Because it can’t be rebuilt the way it was,” said Bill Veach, a Fort Myers Beach councilmember.

For now, the town is united in its optimism.

“People keep talking about five, seven, ten years to build back Fort Myers Beach. That is not the case. We will be ready to go in one year or less. We will be a functional paradise in one year or less,” said Vice-Mayor Jim Atterholt.

Mayor Allers admits there are some hard realities Fort Myers Beach must face. Including the fact that people will leave.

George Gilbert is not one of those people.

“It’s like a stop sign went up out of nowhere and said, ‘this is your home now,'” said Gilbert.

This photo was taken in 2007 with Gilbert at age 22, jamming out with some locals on Fort Myers Beach.

His love of music has taken him around the world, but the sunsets have always brought him back.

“Let’s come back together. Let’s keep this Fort Myers Beach vibe alive. It’s going to be ‘F-M-beautiful,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert and his business partner King are organizing a concert, art festival, and overall good time that will be held on Fort Myers Beach on Saturday.

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