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Arches group, county compromise on project

By Staff | Oct 8, 2019

There is a compromise proposal for the Restore The Arches project on Fort Myers Beach at Crescent Beach Family Park.

After the Arches organization rejected a Lee County staff offer that would have provided space to allow for a 40 percent recreation, Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass came to the table and the parties involved have reached a new agreement.

The new agreement has shifted up to about a 60 percent scale, which was enough for the Arches group to agree and come back to the table for planning.

“I just wanted to try and get everyone together and in agreement. If we can restore a little bit of history to the beach, I’m for it. I remember them fondly, so I’m for getting the Arches done right, even with the restrictions,” Pendergrass said.

The new plan has a couple of mock-ups that would place the structure at the back side of the volleyball beach as you’re coming down the bridge, which would not block the view of the beach, nor prove a challenge in construction as it’s not on the main road.

“Cecil indicated the county will allow us 60 feet of Crescent Beach Family Park. They indicated the Southeast Corner on the beach side. We do like this location. We would prefer a more central location on the street side, but are willing to compromise. We will discuss this before going final. We would also like to discuss with Lee County the possibility of an etched brick fundraiser to build a sidewalk out to the new Arch location” said Ray McDonald, the head of the Restore the Arches group.

There are some minor disagreements on the exact location, but all parties involved are excited to move forward.

“We hope to raise funds to start construction in late 2020. We are working with local structural engineering firm LCM Engineering. They will put together a structural engineering package for review. We will be meeting soon with the Lee County Stake Holders to obtain a Construction Temporary Use Agreement,” McDonald said.

Keeping historic sites is an important goal for both the county and the Arches group. There has been an accelerated effort in recent years to acquire older properties for historic purposes, especially in the Downtown Fort Myers area, so the drive for the Arches has definitely hit a little closer to home for some.

“Keeping history alive is important to us on the commission. Once these locations are gone, they’re gone. So we want to make efforts in keeping them up to date and safe,” Pendergrass said.

There are still fundraising efforts happening, primarily the Rock The Arches to be held at the Lani Kai.

“We have our biggest fundraiser of the year soon. The third Annual Rock The Arches Music Festival/Kai Stock at the Lani Kai Beach Resort on the 25th of April, 2020. Over 13 musical acts, seven full bands, raffles, face painting. It will have a 1960s feel to it, but will have something for everyone. Rock, country, reggae, pop, dance music and more. Pick a time and come out; it is all day 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. We have so many generous sponsors donating to our raffle this year. Tons of valuable prizes will be given away. We hope to raise enough to start construction. We estimated we needed $75,000 to build a 100 percent Arch replica and our numbers haven’t been adjusted yet to build the 60 percent arch,” McDonald said.