The Public Safety Committee is seeking budgetary funds for a seasonal traffic officer to make crossing Estero Boulevard and a related side street a safer process at a busy intersection on the south end "walking district" of Fort Myers Beach. It has been deemed unsafe for some time.
Committee members discussed the financial scope of having either police officers, its volunteer force or private contractor security guards patrol the crosswalk during busy tourism weeks at the Lenell Avenue intersection, which boasts Santini Marina Plaza, CVS Pharmacy, 7-11 and condominiums on both side of the boulevard. The idea may be pitched to the Fort Myers Beach Town Council.
The consensus decision between the advisory board was to seek funds for a test trial during the Christmas holiday week (Christmas through New Year's Eve) after finding more information related to legality and insurance issues for non-police crossing guards. PSC officials will pitch it to Council members to see if money can be set aside for the next fiscal year's budget.
"I think we should test it with the Lee County Sheriff's Office just to see what kind of impact that we have," said Public Safety Committee member Jim Wray.
Fellow member Al Durrett owns at least two businesses and runs another at that intersection.
"I think if it works and everybody likes it and the neighborhood likes it, then we put it into next year's budget," he said.
Public Safety Committee has a budget of $2,000, but money may not come out of the committee budget if Council approves such a test study. More research will be done before Council receives the request.
FMB Public Works Director Scott Baker has been looking into the viability of such a project. He reported LCSO charges $50 per hour plus $15 extra per hour to have a police cruiser on site.
"I was hoping to get an idea of what hours for trials to get those numbers together to figure out what that budget would be," he said.
The Sheriff's Volunteer Observers Impacting Community Efforts (VOICE) group that patrol the Times Square traffic light and crosswalk daily during tourism season was said to be not an option due to a depleted staff that works the entire Lee County region.
Baker will be checking on the cost of a private contractor, if that option is legal. Not just anyone can serve as a crossing guard. A certain level of training may be needed.
"The level of training we need is someone who can deal with traffic," said Councilwoman Rexann Hosafros, the committee's liaison.
Committee members discussed a six-hour period (noon to 6 p.m.) for which the need is greatest at that intersection. Cost is projected to be between $2,100 and $2,730 for that timeframe for a full week's time.
Pedestrian versus vehicle fatalities and injuries have occurred in the recent past in that area.
A blinking yellow traffic light was also discussed. Cost for such a feature was stated to be between $250,000 to $800,000.
"I think it makes sense our way to at least a test of some kind," said Wray.
Wray selected as vice chair of committee
Public Safety Committee members selected Jim Wray to serve as vice chair of the advisory board. Wray conducted the June meeting in chairperson Bruce Butcher's absence.
Bay Beach Lane to receive RRFB
Another busy crosswalk on the south side of the island is close to receiving a rapid rectangular flashing beacon set-up, much like the one just south of Santini Marina Plaza.
"I was told that our contractor finished the concrete work at Bay Beach Lane sidewalks and the bases for the RRFBs," said Lee County DOT's Rob Phelan. "We are awaiting there arrival. Once they come in, our traffic operations group will assemble them and bring them down to that spot."
The project is expected to completed some time in July.
CVS corrects visibility triangle blockage
Public Safety Committee members applauded the efforts of CVS Pharmacy, who trimmed their hedges in the right of way in front of the store, thereby correcting a problem with visibility.
That intersection was stated to be in violation of the visibility triangle. Shrub height within the visibility triangle is limited to two feet in height, and trees must maintain a six-foot clearance height.
The advisory board had discussed that part of a safety issue at the Lenell Avenue intersection and recommended a compliance request letter be sent to store officials.
"They saw exactly what the concerns were and jumped right on it," said Town Public Services Supervisor Tildon Copeland.
Durrett recommended a thank you letter be sent. One will be written up and Beach Mayor Anita Cereceda is expected to sign it prior to being mailed.