What’s going on with the 5th Street ramp?

March 29, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse

■ BY SUE ERWIN
It’s becoming a common question downtown, asked by families that haven’t yet been to the island this season.
“Where can we actually access the beach?”
The drop to the beach off the seawall in the historic district is considerable at most beach access points, which is why the beach ramp at the 5th Street public parking lot would be a great thing to have right now.
A construction crew began working on the 5th Street beach access ramp several weeks ago. Currently there is no beach access, because it is blocked off at the west end of the parking area. We sent an email inquiry to Lee County communications specialists and learned that the project is expected to be completed in the second week of April.
Part of the existing ramp was washed away in a storm shortly after it was built in 2017, and since it also was in need of other repairs, the County considered the length of it when arranging for improvements.
The plan for the new ADA handicap-accessible ramp will include an additional 40 feet of ramp.
Until the work is complete, visitors in need of a ramp to access the beach can visit the Gasparilla Island State Park located at the south end of the island at 880 Belcher Road.
“We have two ADA beach wheelchairs available at the Lighthouse, one of which is a floating wheelchair,” said Rick Argo, Gasparilla Island State Park manager.
The park also has a “Mobi Mat,” which accesses Boca Grande Pass beach. It is lightweight, portable, rollout, nonslip matting that is temporarily or permanently placed on the ground to provide access on sand, grass or other unstable surfaces.
The Range Light State Park near Wheeler Street also has ADA access to the beach via a Mobi Mat.