In response to the massive and widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, the Lee Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to form the Lee County Recovery Task Force (RTF) based on the FEMA National Disaster Recovery Framework.
This task force will help guide Lee County's use of the $1.1 billion in aid that the Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing for recovery from Hurricane Ian.
To educate the public and get input, the RTF is hosting a series of 16 town hall meetings through May 11.
This will be an opportunity to inform the public about the work of the Recovery Task Force and for the public to provide input on what is needed to repair and rebuild the communities in Lee County that were hit by Hurricane Ian.
Members of the public are welcome to attend any Town Hall meeting in any location.
OUR NEW TOWN MANAGER ANDREW HYATT
officially began duties with his first Town Council meeting
on Monday, May 1, 2023
“It’s going to be a different community but it’s going to be a resilient community because now we have a chance to set the bar high for the whole State of Florida,” Hyatt said.
“Hiring some new staff to get parks and recreation going back, getting some permit technicians in place and being able to help, and maybe get some software, to help the permits and get that process as smooth as can be,” Hyatt explained, when asked of his first priorities on the job.
He believes his experience from Surfside, Florida, the site of the 2021 condo collapse, helped prepare him for the Fort Myers Beach job.
“It’s a wider scale and a little broader obviously, town wide. It’s still similar in response. I have contacts with the state, federal government and even some international governments that we called on when I was in Surfside,” he said.
Keith Wilkins, who has served as one of two interim managers, said if Hyatt needs, a lifeline is prepared to throw him one.
“But he’s got to lead. It’s his organization now and his administration,” Wilkins stated, after Town Council meeting.
Thank you Keith Wilkins.
We will miss you!
“When I first arrived, I committed to resetting the workplace culture and hurricane recovery to the best of my abilities," Keith said. “Be it hurricane recovery or workplace recovery, it all began with The Town staff. They have enabled me to participate in the most rewarding highlight of my career. The FMB staff here today has been incredible. They have been eager to serve, at great personal sacrifice, endured long hours, suffered stressful days, exhibited more flexibility than Gumby, gone to work on a bus, worked in tents, and experienced situations that few public servants ever have. It has truly been an honor to serve with all Town employees and it is bittersweet for me to leave when so much is left to do.
Andy has worked through one of the most serious community disasters ever experienced in the United States. Another of my goals was to provide for continuity in transition and to hand the Town over to a sound, capable leader. We are doing that with Andy. I’m happy he chose Fort Myers Beach and that we chose him. The Town's future is staged for success. Projects are starting to rise out of the debris of Hurricane Ian. It is going to be an exciting and rewarding time to work on one of the greatest rebuilds of our time. You are the staff and community to do it.
I have made lifelong friends and memories here. So, I’m not saying goodbye but thank you for giving me the greatest opportunity to serve as a capstone to my career.”
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM UTILITIES
Lee County Utilities will be temporarily converting its disinfectant process from chloramines to free chlorine residual from May 1 through May 21, 2023.
This is a routine measure that is common for water utilities using chloramines as its primary disinfectant. Anyone who uses a kidney dialysis machine at home should contact his or her equipment supplier so the proper filtering equipment may be installed. Tropical fish or aquatic animal owners should contact a local tropical fish store for appropriate pretreatment of water before adding water to tanks. Customers may notice a temporary change in the taste, odor, and color of the water, which is not harmful. Again, this is a routine measure to ensure our customers of clean, safe potable water.
CELEBRATING MUNICIPAL CLERKS WEEK
April 30 - May 6, 2023
The International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) is sponsoring the 54th Annual Professional Municipal Clerks Week April 30 - May 6, 2023.
This is a week-long series of activities aimed at increasing the public’s awareness of Municipal Clerks and the vital services they provide for local government and the community. It is a celebration and reflection on the importance of the Municipal Clerk's Office.
In the Town of Fort Myers Beach, Amy Baker serves as Town Clerk. Amy has been with the Town for 10 years and has served as the Town Clerk for two and a half years. She was the Deputy Clerk prior to becoming Town Clerk.
The Town Clerk’s Office prepares all materials and agendas for Town Council meetings in coordination with the Town’s manager, attorney, department directors and staff, which requires multiple documents and details for each meeting. She oversees the Town’s 11 committees and boards which includes about 80 volunteer community members appointed by Town Council.
Along with the Town Manager, the clerk is the main go-to person for Town Councilors and the Town Attorney. She oversees the information technology and communications/public information functions as the leader of the Town Clerk’s Department and is the steward of public records. (Requests for public records since Hurricane Ian have more than tripled.)
One other Town staff member, Jason Freeman, is also certified as a Municipal Clerk.
SAFE BOATING WEEK
Proclamation signed by Mayor Dan Allers at the Monday, May 1 Town Council Meeting
Perfect score received on review that helps property owners reduce insurance costs
Kudos to the Community Development Department!
The Town’s Community Development Department recently scored a perfect 100% correctness rate on its annual Community Rating System (CRS) review of construction certificates. This review is conducted by the Insurance Services Office (ISO).
This CRS annual recertification confirms that the Town is correctly performing the requirements regarding finished construction Elevation Certificates, Floodproofing Certificates, V Flood Zone Certificates and Engineered Opening (flood vent) Certificates.
Since Hurricane Ian, Town staff have been working diligently to exceed challenging standards set by the voluntary National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) CRS. The Town has earned a CRS floodplain management rating of five, resulting in a 25 percent reduction in insurance premiums for FMB property owners. Many residents already have lowered premiums because of the Town’s ongoing participation in this program.
As a CRS participating community, Town staff work to enhance public safety and property protection, protect the natural floodplain function, and reduce flood insurance premiums. The CRS supports the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by working to minimize flood losses nationwide, both inside and outside of mapped floodplains.
For more information, visit www.fmbgov.com > Doing Town Business > Flood Information.
Town receives $10 million State grant for stormwater system repair
Governor Ron DeSantis announced on April 28 that the Town has received $10 million as part of a Hurricane Stormwater and Wastewater Assistance Grant Program created during the Florida legislature’s special session in December 2022
This program is for local governments that were heavily impacted in 2022 by Hurricane Ian or Nicole to rebuild their stormwater and wastewater systems and make them more resilient.
“This is the largest amount that the Town could have received from this grant program and we are grateful to Governor DeSantis and the Florida legislators, as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, for recognizing the Town’s need and providing for it,” said Interim Town Manager Keith Wilkins.
The Town’s Public Works staff and state consultants from Tidal Basin Group worked together in March to prepare and submit a grant application for consideration. This grant program is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
For more information about this program, click on these links:
The emergency berm project is designed to add elevation to the beach areas impacted by Hurricane Ian. This elevation helps protect upland properties from storm surge. It also has the added benefit of giving nesting sea turtles elevated beach to lay their eggs.
This week, dump trucks are hauling sand from Margaritaville to Mango Street and from Sandpiper to Flamingo Streets. Also, sand piles on the beach in that same area are to be graded to FEMA specifications over the next two weeks.
Sea turtle nesting season starts on May 1 and runs through October 31, and early nesting activity has already been reported in Southwest Florida on Casey Key in Venice and Captiva Island here in Lee County.
It’s time now to remind all property owners about the lighting that is required to help protect turtles and hatchlings during nesting season. Conventional lighting scares females from nesting and disorients hatchlings away from the Gulf, leading to exhaustion, dehydration, and death from falling into storm drains, passing cars, and predators.
Long wavelength amber bulbs in downward directed fixtures that shield the bulb from the beach are encouraged everywhere on the island, not just beachfront, because so many structures and vegetation that previously shielded light from the beach are gone due to Hurricane Ian. Besides lighting, it is also just as important to draw curtains closed at night.
When it comes to windows and glass slider doors, the Town adopted new rules in 2022 for Sea Turtle Conservation. Windows and doors/sliders are required to have a light transmittance of 45% or less AND have a window cover installed. Read the Sea Turtle Conservation Ordinance.
Need professional help with bulbs and fixtures? The Sea Turtle Conservancy recommends Frontier Lighting and Synergy Lighting. Long wavelength amber bulbs can also be found online. Search for “sea turtle amber LED” and the bulb type that you need. It’s important to verify that the spectrum specifications of the bulb indicate 560 nm or greater.
One of the cheapest FWC certified wildlife lighting options that staff have found online is the FEIT A19 Red Bulb that screws into classic Edison fixtures. Please note, filter wraps, gels, and colored party bulbs are not compliant because sea turtles are sensitive to their light.
The Town will monitor lights on the beach during season. Efforts will focus on educating property owners on solutions. Property owners are encouraged to walk on the beach to see if their property’s lighting is visible from the beach and install wildlife friendly lighting. The Town’s Environmental Projects Manager Chadd Chustz is available for questions and light inspections. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's national hurricane preparedness week to remind us all to get ready for hurricane season which starts on June 1.
The best time to prepare for hurricanes is BEFORE hurricane season begins. Avoid having to rush through potentially life-saving preparations by waiting until it’s too late. Get your disaster supplies while the shelves are still stocked, and get that insurance checkup early, as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period. noaa.gov/prepare-before-hurricane-season
Starting Saturdays in May, explore the winding mangrove creeks and hidden backwaters of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve with Mound House. This unique tour offers a rare opportunity to experience the abundant life within an estuary. Mound House kayak tours are conducted in accordance with Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism guidelines. All paddling and safety equipment provided. Ages 12 and up. Weather permitting. COST: $50 per person (MH Members $20) Museum admission included. Maximum of 12 paddlers per tour. Shoes required. Book your kayak tour on MoundHouse.org”
NEW MONTH IN MOUND HOUSE means
A NEW LECTURE
Join us On May 16th at 5:30pm at the Mound House for "When Bugs and Plants Collide" presented by Julie Motkowicz, Education Coordinator at CREW Land & Water Trust.
The complex partnerships between bugs and plants are more than what meets the eye, from dazzling mimicry of colors and even smells, to intense defense and manipulation. Each leaf, stem, and flower is a stage for an insect to perform nature's dances. These performances include pollination, meal preparation, homesteading, mating, daycare, and more. All we have to do…is watch! Join and learn about what happens when bugs and plants collide.
Wine, cheese, and crackers included in price for lecture. Members: $7, Non-Members: $12.
Call 239-765-0865 to register.
MOUND HOUSE IS OPEN
Grounds are open Monday through Saturday from 7:30am to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 7:30am to 3 p.m.
Museum and Museum Store are open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Pickleball courts at Bay Oaks will be unavailable over the next few months as the gym and grounds are under reconstruction due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian. Exact dates will be posted when the construction timeline is finalized.
Keep up on the schedule of Town Council and advisory committee meetings
All meetings are now at DiamondHead Resort 2000 Estero Boulevard
Live and recorded meetings can also be viewed on the Town of Fort Myers Beach YouTube channel.
Thursday, May 4 / 9 a.m. Town Council Management & Planning Session
Tuesday, May 9 / 9 a.m. Local Planning Agency (LPA)Meeting
Wednesday, May 10 / 10 a.m. Marine and Environmental Resources Task Force (MERTF) Meeting
*Meetings are subject to change. Please refer to the agendas posted on the Town's website.
Town Hall is open for walk-in service from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments are strongly encouraged to minimize wait times. Call 239-765-0202 to schedule an appointment with the appropriate department.
Status of bids and proposals
The Town has partnered with DemandStar which is open and accessible to all businesses and gives instant access to RFPs, RFQs, and ITBs