■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
When Lee County commissioners meet on Tuesday, Oct. 4, they will be discussing the expansion of the public, County-owned parking lot located at the west end of 5th Street, next to The Gasparilla Inn Beach Club.
The proposed project includes enhancement of the existing parking lot by increasing the number of parking spaces from 46 to 91, adding parking bumpers, landscaping and a new ADA-accessible boardwalk to the beach, and more signage.
According to County records, this is a “stand-alone” project, designed to increase the number of tourists who will have access to the beach from vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
County records attached to the agenda item further state that “beach access and parking is one of the largest drawing points for Lee County tourism. The ease of access and parking will draw more people to the beach on a year-round basis.
This improvement will reconfigure the parking lot to allow for 45 more parking spaces, which will be more visible from 5th Street. The project will have a positive effect on the tourism for Boca Grande by improving access to the beach and shoreline.
While design of the project has been completed, the permitting process is incomplete and isn’t expected to be done for about 60 days after it’s approved (if, in fact, it is). According to the County, if all goes well the project could be complete by the end of the year.
The money to fund the project will come partly from Lee County Tourist Development tax reserves ($200,000). Commissioners will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the commission chambers at 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers.
No other parking matters are scheduled to be discussed this month by the commissioners.