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Sanibel ready for another battle vs. county

By Staff | Aug 20, 2009

Just as islanders began to settle down following a three-month skirmish with the Lee County Department of Transportation over their proposed disbanding of the LeeWay toll discount program, it looks like Sanibel might be getting ready for another clash with the DOT.

This time, the argument is over a fishing pier being added along the causeway.

Last month, news began to leak out that the DOT has been working on plans to add a 343-foot fishing pier deck on top of the pilings remaining from the former causeway’s roadway. The structure, dubbed the Island “B” Recreation Pier, will be comprised of a precast concrete slab and will feature six shaded awnings.

It will also cost the residents of Sanibel thousands of dollars in lost revenues.

Consider this: If the Lee County Board of Commissioners approve the project – which in early estimates will cost taxpayers between $1.2 and $1.5 million – what incentive does any would-be angler have to visit Sanibel? Virtually none.

The on-site parking adjacent to the pier would be free, so thrifty fishermen – and who isn’t watching their wallet these days? – could avoid having to pay parking fees at the Sanibel Fishing Pier. Imagine how that would hurt the city’s income stream.

And what would stop the county from issuing a vendor’s license to sell bait and fishing supplies along the causeway, in the same manner that they allow a hot dog vendor to peddle fast food, snacks and sodas to beachgoers along the 2.7-mile span? That would surely have a negative impact for on-island businesses.

A fishing pier on the causeway would increase fishing activity in the area while at the same time decrease the incentive for folks to visit Sanibel. In effect, our island would be punished.

Although the item isn’t on the County Commissioner’s upcoming agenda, we would like to encourage our readers to speak out against the DOT’s fishing pier proposal by writing (Lee County Board of Commissioners, P.O. Box 398, Fort Myers, FL 33902-0398), e-mailing (dist1@leegov.com) or calling (239-533-2224) our District 1 representative, Sanibel resident Bob Janes. Let him know that he should not support this idea, nor should his fellow commissioners.

If the DOT wants another battle with the people of Sanibel, they’ve found one.

– Reporter editorial