Beach access parking to be cleaned up, new signage proposed

■ BY SUE ERWIN

Lee County Parks and Recreation Administrative Manager Jesse Lavender unveiled proposed examples of new beach access signs at the Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board meeting on Wednesday, March 8, and discussed the fact that letters would soon be sent out to property owners on beach access streets.

The new signs will replace the current signs on beach access roads. Most of the current signs on the island have been here since the 1980s.

The signs are 18” by 24” single-side white and green aluminum panels. Several years ago, some members of the community expressed their concerns to county officials about parking and other issues occurring at beach access streets. As a result, they formed a casual committee to spruce up and renovate the signage on the access roads and also to address emergency vehicle access issues. One proposed example cites the following from Lee County ordinance 06-26: No alcohol glass containers, no lifeguard, no fires, no camping, no live shelling, no littering/up to $300 fine, no vehicles over 20 feet.

“At the top of the new proposed signs, we’ve included an image of the south lighthouse to make it more community-friendly,” Lavender said.

There will also be directional signs added at Fifth Street and Gilchrist to guide visitors to the state park beaches.

“We’ll be issuing letters within the next two weeks to inform the property owners of the project. They can then choose to clear the plantings themselves, or we will come in and meticulously clear it,” Lavender said. The letter was currently being drafted at press time, but Lavender said property owners will have 30 days to clear the land as surveyed, or the county and/or a contractor would take care of it.

Lee County Communications Director Betsy Clayton said the letter will include such things as:

• Lee County Parks & Recreation is planning a project to improve entry for emergency vehicles on County-maintained beach access roads in Boca Grande.

• Numerous encroachment issues exist on the beach access roads, including vegetation (trees, shrubs and bushes), planters, boulders and railroad ties.

• Although this list is not all-inclusive, all items that might impede the ability of emergency vehicles to use the beach access roads, and any unauthorized objects that are within 14 feet of the center of the roadway must be removed.

• You have 30 days to remove unauthorized items from the County right-of-way. • Items not removed after this period will be removed by Lee County.

• The County won’t remove any items on private property.

Lee County Parks and Recreation Supervisor Joe Wier will oversee the project.

Ironically, ten years ago, the top headline in the March 9, 2007 Boca Beacon was “County: Don’t block beach streets.” A photo showed barricades, plantings and stone pillars blocking more than 80 feet of beach access on 11th Street. The street was supposed to be 50 feet wide at that time, according to a Lee County survey. The obstructions had reduced the width to ten feet. A Lee County official said any plantings on the beach access streets would run the risk of being pulled if they blocked parking places.

Keep reading the Boca Beacon for updates on this story.