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Fort Myers backs off use of Tarpon Avenue Pier as public boat ramp

After listening to complaints from East Fort Myers residents, the Metropolis of Fort Myers is pursuing property adjoining to the Riverside Neighborhood Heart as an alternative of the remnants of Tarpon Avenue Pier for its subsequent public boat ramp.

Town misplaced its downtown Fort Myers boat ramp alongside the Caloosahatchee River in 2017 for the Luminary Resort improvement. Since then, council members have been looking out for a brand new boat ramp website.

“It is simpler for them to toss stuff like that right into a defenseless underserved neighborhood,” East Fort Myers resident Patricia Borns stated.

Borns led the “Save Tarpon Avenue Pier Park” opposition to the council’s actions. This got here after Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson stated that the location might function the boat ramp.

“[Tarpon Pier and park is] not simply ours, Born stated. “It is all people’s asset.”

Tarpon Avenue Pier was as soon as a waterfront property for locals to fish and make the most of inexperienced house that was shaded by the hundred-year-old oak and mango timber. Now, after Hurricane Ian, solely a small portion of the pier stays and the park is overgrown and closed to guests.

It was determined that the town would look into the 1.35-acre property on the market subsequent to the neighborhood middle finally week’s workshop. The proprietor settled on a $2 million worth, in keeping with metropolis workers.

Town did go after constructing on the neighborhood middle, however tax-exempt bonds limit motor services being offered, eliminating Riverside as an possibility.

In an settlement with the close by Oasis condominium, the town acquired a public boat ramp in alternate for a improvement code in 2004. The ordinance is ready to run out in 2024 if Oasis doesn’t begin development on the third tower of its deliberate improvement.

Borns stated there’s a lack of accessible parking at Tarpon Avenue, making the boat ramp exhausting to get to.

Earlier than Hurricane Ian , the Tarpon Avenue pier had been a spot for fishing, strolling, and sightseeing. Plans by the town to make use of the now pier-less website for a ship ramp seem to have been dropped.

“I wish to simply cease speaking about Tarpon Pier as a result of the individuals don’t want it,” Councilperson Teresa Watkins Brown stated. “I don’t assume you have to put one thing someplace the place you realize a resident doesn’t need it.”

Mayor Anderson famous the town is operating out of choices if they don’t pursue buying the lot.

“Everybody is aware of we’re operating out of places,” Anderson stated. “Sadly, this matter ought to have been resolved earlier than we closed down the unique boat ramp. If we are able to make this property work, it’s an awesome addition to the Riverside Heart property.”

“This offers our neighborhood a possibility to foyer the town to designate the whole Tarpon Avenue Pier park property as a pocket park on the brand new parks and recreation grasp plan, so it may be improved whereas preserving its pure enchantment,” Borns stated.

In 2021, there have been 1.01 million leisure boats in Florida, with Lee County having 53,867 registered leisure boats, in keeping with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee.

As for what’s subsequent for the pier and park, the plans are unknown. Born want to see restoration efforts for the pier and extra public areas for the neighborhood to collect.

This story was produced by Democracy Watch, a information service offered by Florida Gulf Coast College journalism college students. The reporter may be reached at


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