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Alan Shanosky, CIndee Shanosky, Council Member Karen Woodson, and Dennis Wagaman discuss the Pier Rebuild at a recent FMB Chamber Friday Power Hour Event in Times Square.

FMB’s Tale of Two Towns: Hopeful Pier Rebuild vs. Controversial Times Square Plan

Fort Myers Beach Redevelopment – Residents Unite To Rebuild Iconic Pier; Meanwhile, Mayor Faces Conflict of Interest Allegations Over Times Square

By Richard Luthmann

Fort Myers Beach redevelopment efforts following Hurricane Ian face a stark contrast. The community unites to rebuild the iconic pier, led by Town Council Member Karen Woodson and supported by Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane, promising a collaborative effort with over $1 million secured for the project.

At the same time, Times Square’s redevelopment is mired in controversy, with property owners frustrated by a lack of consultation and transparency. Mayor Dan Allers, criticized for his “authoritarian” approach and potential conflicts of interest involving his business dealings with Margaritaville, adds to the tension.

This divide between community-driven and top-down approaches will shape the Town’s future.

The Good: Pier Rebuild Welcomes All Stakeholders Into Fort Myers Beach Redevelopment

Fort Myers Beach Redevelopment
Alan Shanosky, CIndee Shanosky, Council Member Karen Woodson, and Dennis Wagaman discuss the Pier Rebuild at a recent FMB Chamber Friday Power Hour Event in Times Square.

FMB is buzzing with excitement over the Pier rebuild. The community, united by Hurricane Ian’s devastation, is eager to contribute. Town Council Member Karen Woodson champions this cause, emphasizing the community’s vision. Council Member Scott Safford echoes her sentiments.

FMB Town Council Member Scott Safford

“The Pier is critical. The Pier Plan must be a coordinated effort between all the stakeholders. Without the Pier, there is no Times Square. Without Times Square, there is no Pier. It all works together,” Safford said.

FMB Town Council Member Karen Woodson

Local leaders and residents stress the need for transparency and active involvement. They want detailed plans, budgets, and timelines to ensure effective contributions.

Alan Shanosky of the Pier Committee embodies grassroots dedication. He and his wife Cindee spent 18 months after Ian researching pier reconstruction, visiting various piers across Florida and the Eastern seaboard. His findings, presented to the Town Council, reflect the community’s needs and modern design practices.

“A properly constructed Pier has the added environmental benefit of capturing offshore sand before it becomes deposited into the Mantanzas Bay. Sand reclamation could save the Town millions,” Shanosky said.

Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane

Lee County, led by Commissioner Kevin Ruane, has now come to the table. They have promised a collaborative effort for all stakeholders, thanks to the Pier Committee and Council Member Woodson’s great work.

Ruane has helped secure over $1 million for the new pier design. The project, designed by Stantec Consulting Services, aims to extend the pier from 560 feet to about 900 feet and widen it for more visitors. While the project is in its early stages, public input will be incorporated, and completion will take several years.


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The Bad: Times Square Plan Divides Community

Times Square, devastated by Hurricane Ian, is a hotbed of contention. Nineteen months after the hurricane, property owners struggle to agree on a redevelopment plan. Despite multiple attempts, consensus remains elusive.

The town owns the walkway through Times Square and had plans to repair drainage before the storm. A $10 million line of credit was available, but priorities shifted post-Ian.

Lee County owns Lynn Hall Park and the Fort Myers Beach pier on one side of Times Square and Crescent Park on the other. County representatives will attend a meeting to discuss new plans for Times Square.

Fort Myers Beach Developer Terry Persaud

Property owners are frustrated with the lack of consultation. “They are presenting renderings like they are a done deal. I am a property owner, and no one ever asked me. Who is in charge here? Did the Town Council approve all of this?” said Terry Persaud, who owns several Times Square properties.

Questions loom about the Town Council and Town Attorney’s involvement. The role of Jay Kamb Group, the design company responsible for the renderings, is under scrutiny. (They also produced the Myerside design drawings.) Who funded these renderings, and were they approved?

The meeting tonight aims to unveil the new plans and address these concerns. But without unity and clear communication, the path forward for Times Square remains murky.

The Ugly: Mayor E-Z-GO’s Heavy Hand

Fort Myers Beach Redevelopment
Critics argue FMB Mayor Dan Allers is running projects like a “Soviet Kommisar,” appropriating land to fit his grand designs. Some question whether they are even his designs, or TPI owner Tom Torgerson’s.

Mayor Dan Allers, dubbed by some as “Mayor E-Z-GO,” faces criticism for his perceived authoritarian approach. His plans for the town often seem to disregard the voices of local property and business owners. Critics argue he operates more like a Soviet Kommisar, appropriating land use to fit his grand designs.

Residents accuse Mayor Allers of sidelining community input. They feel their rights and properties are being overlooked in favor of ambitious projects.

Complicating matters, Allers co-owns Island Carts FMB with partner Tim Ryan. They reinvested in street-legal electric golf carts with front-facing seats, backup cameras, and Bluetooth sound systems. Their fleet was recently listed at 22 carts. Ten carts are earmarked for Margaritaville, in a pre-storm deal, while the remaining 12 serve the public.

Concerns about undisclosed conflicts of interest between Allers and Margaritaville have surfaced. Did Allers properly notify the Town Attorney of his holdings? Is there a conflict of interest between the Mayor and Margaritaville, owned by TPI and Tom Torgerson?

Did Tom Torgerson discuss Fair and Transparent Development Practices for Fort Myers Beach Recovery?
Tom Torgerson

“How do we know that the Mayor isn’t pushing the plan that will benefit Tom Torgerson the most and FMB the least?” critics ask.

The tension between community-driven efforts like the pier rebuild and the top-down approach in Times Square highlights a stark divide. Fort Myers Beach stands at a crossroads, needing balanced leadership that respects all voices.

As the town navigates its recovery and redevelopment, the contrast between the pier’s community-focused approach and Times Square’s contentious plans is clear. The outcome will shape Fort Myers Beach’s future, testing the resolve and unity of its residents.

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