Parking space confusion for Fort Myers Beach business

Reporter: Annalise Iraola Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Fort Myers Beach is looking to get people back on their island, but where the cars will go is a question many are asking.

The problem they’re facing is parking spaces. Before Hurricane Ian, the Whale had 18 parking spots, but building back in the aftermath of Ian is different.

The current code is asking for 54 parking spaces, and they want that number reduced from 54 to 17, along with two other variances.

“As far as the town goes, I think we lost pretty close to about 100 spaces, just for under the town control,” said Frankie Kropacek, the operations and compliance director of Fort Myers Beach, “so we know that the system, for lack of a better term, is kind of broken, but not easy and kind of clean slate of that, so as these businesses start to grow back, we can’t as a town penalize them for something that was made in the past,” said Kropacek.

Kropacek said the town has been working on a development plan to come up with a better solution.

“So adding kind of new parking areas is really not the solution,” said Kropacek. “It’s trying to reconfigure what we do have to make it the best sense and not penalize businesses trying to come back.”

One business impacted by parking space requirements as it tries to rebuild is The Whale. At last week’s local planning agency meeting, owners Mike and Dawn Miller requested three variances from the town.

Kropacek told WINK News as Fort Myers Beach grows as an island, they have to think outside the box and look at off-island parking options.

“San Carlos Island: that would provide us off-island parking, whether it would be a water taxi possibly coming in this way, whether it would be a tram coming this way to park and ride, so there’s going to be a lot of variables at play, but this is something that, again, we’re still in the preliminary stage, but we hope to get it out really soon,” said Kropacek.

The operations and compliance director told WINK News they hope to at least get some definite answers out to the public after the first of the calendar year in 2024.

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