Lee County has a primary objective in improving Sanibel Causeway. This is what Jesse Lavender (director of Lee County Parks & Recreation) told Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce members at a virtual power-hour on October 6th.
“So, I was eager to get these renderings done to share them with the public.”He spoke during his Zoom Slide Presentation. “I’ve lived here all my life. I see these renderings and feel they’re preserving the island’s nature. This is something we do not want to change. It isn’t Marco Island. “We want to preserve what we have.
The project is expected to be completed by June 2024. Work began in the summer. On Island B, near Sanibel, county crews began to remove non-native Australian pin trees. Lavender stressed that only 30% of the planning had been completed. The county is open to receiving feedback and can be seen at leegov.com/parks.
Already made improvements include additional T-bars at both islands, beach renovations, a designated entrance and exit to parking lots, roundabouts for small sailboats and paddle boats dropping off, more local landscaping than Australian pines, rainwater management, pavilions on each island, and permanent toilets both on the A and B sides. The islands will be stabilized by a network of dunes that intersect at the parking area and beach. This will help to reduce the sea level rise.
The county continues to consider a bicycle lane, permeable hiking trails, rock improvements along the south side Island A in order to limit wave action and fishing improvements such as a cleaning station.
“We are committed to preserving the history of each island’s activities, making them more safe and preventing erosion.”Lavender. “Jet skis sometimes get careless and close to swimmers. Swimming zones are not something we’re referring to until 2024.
Participant questions raised concerns over changes to parking spaces. The two islands will have a combined total of 238 parking spots, which include four for motorhomes. Lavender also compared it to the total number of vehicles that were on the dam on Labor Day Weekend – 411 per day. A portion of Island A’s garage will be transformed into functions rooms to host the Easter Sunrise Service as well as the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s annual fundraising event for the Sanibel Sea School.
Lavender indicated that officials from the district will be meeting soon to determine whether or not parking fees are to be imposed on the dam.
“We are grateful for your efforts in the construction of this site”John Lai, President of the Chamber and Chief Executive Officer said. “You’re in the hot seat today. There were probably more than 20 questions. As it should, the community has been involved as much as possible in this project. It will surely be something that people can be proud to see when it is completed.
Lavender is originally from Fort Myers and has worked at Lee County Parks & Recreation for almost 17 years. Prior to this, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism, Travel, and Commercial Recreation at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was a fishing guide at Pine Island Sound and Everglades National Park.
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