TO: Local Planning Agency
FROM: Carol Cunningham
DATE: April 14, 1997
SUBJECT: Review of Proposed Core Area Improvements
The Core Area Master Plan was prepared for the Estero Island CRA in December 1995 by
Wallace, Roberts and Todd. It was derived from the Estero Island CRA Plan and contains
the vision, policy, and implementation recommendations for the Town's downtown "core
area." The purpose of this memorandum is to provide a summary and review of those
recommendations which could be initiated or implemented by the public sector, as well as
related Lee Plan policies which supplement those recommendations, for the purpose of
formulating policy for the new comprehensive plan.
The Core Area Master Plan consists of a Vision Statement, a Vision Plan, the Regulating
Plan, and Design Guidelines. The Vision Plan provides goals and objectives derived from the
Vision Statement (copy attached), provides an illustrative master plan, describes the urban
design principles which are the foundation for the master plan, and detail the measures which
should be implemented over time to accomplish the vision. Implementation of many of these
measures has already been initiated through the recent adoption of the "Regulating Plan"
portion as a redevelopment overlay zone and the recently completed first phase of the Times
Square streetscape improvements. Implementation will continue incrementally as
improvements are made to private property consistent with the Regulating Plan and as
additional public improvements are made.
The Regulating Plan portion of the Core Area Master Plan serves as an "overlay" to the Lee
County LDRs and Zoning and provides changes to the underlying development regulations
for the purpose of encouraging redevelopment which furthers the vision, goals, and
objectives of the Core Area Master Plan.
The Regulating Plan includes:
- A section entitled regulatory analysis and testing which provides examples
demonstrating the application of the overlay development regulations in each of the
- A table of permitted land uses in each district;
- Property development regulations;
- An analysis and tabulation of future development capacity; and
- An analysis of consistency with the Lee Plan and concurrency standards.
The Core Area Master Plan also contains a section of illustrated Design Guidelines. These
Design Guidelines are applicable to both public and private sector improvements and
provide for design consistency and appropriate integration of the public and private
environment of the downtown area. The text of the Master Plan proposes these guidelines as
"voluntary." The Town has adopted the guidelines by administrative code. Particularly
important to the development of comprehensive plan policy is to encourage implementation
of the design program related to public areas and the interface between public and private
property in order to promote consistency of design, location, and materials in those areas
over the long term.
The Design Guidelines address:
- Site Design (sidewalk treatments, street furniture and lights, street vending, outdoor
dining and plazas, service and loading, parking areas, and landscaping);
- Building Design (envelope, massing and scale, height, facade, materials, overhangs);
In addition to the Regulating Plan and the Design Guidelines, the Core Area Master Plan
provides numerous recommendations for improvements or other actions which should be
initiated or implemented by the public sector in order to fully implement the Vision Plan.
These recommendations of the Core Area Master Plan are summarized below.
The new comprehensive plan should incorporate policy related to those measures that are
determined to be appropriate and feasible and identify the timing, mechanism, and potential
funding source for implementation. To facilitate the process of sorting out the priorities and
identifying those items which may still be controversial, we have developed an informal
"sorting out matrix" (attached) which will help guide our discussion at your meeting of April
SUMMARY OF CORE AREA MASTER PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS
RELATED TO PUBLIC SECTOR ACTIONS
Creating the Public Environment
Adopt a consistent approach to the design and implementation of sidewalk
- Standard sidewalk widths should be provided by the public sector and/or private
developers in each development project as it is implemented. Include program for
private sidewalk reservation through dedication or easement, particularly along Old
San Carlos, with a two-tiered system of sidewalk dimensional criteria which require at
minimum a 5' sidewalk width from the inside edge of the curb as an unobstructed
- Adopt proposed materials for use in public rights-of-way and private property
improvements adjacent to sidewalks, such as in plazas or building setbacks.
- Adopt the program for the placement and type of street furniture (street lights,
benches, trash receptacles, bike racks, tree grates, and others such as street name
plates and poles, information kiosks, etc.) as specified in the Design Guidelines, in
order to establish a fully coordinated and integrated design vocabulary for public
rights-of-way in the Core Area and for the "interface" between the public and private
- Provide special design treatment (continuation of sidewalk paving patterns) at major
intersections of the primary pedestrian streets to create a visual link and distinguish the
pedestrian surface from the vehicular right-of-way. Intersections proposed are Old
San Carlos at First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth Streets, and Fourth Street Parking,
and Estero Boulevard at Center Street.
Implement the Pedestrian Circulation Plan
- Develop sidewalks (5' wide minimum sidewalk) along all streets in the Core Area.
- Provide a bike path along Estero Blvd., utilizing Crescent Street to Third St. across to
Old San Carlos and then connecting back to Estero Blvd. and north to Bowditch
- Provide a boardwalk along the beachfront which connects the beach access near the
Lani Kai to Lynn Hall Park, built on the landward side of a dune area planted with
Sabal Palms and Sea Oats
- Promote the function of Old San Carlos as a pedestrian spine linking Times Square
and the marina at the pass by implementing public sidewalks and major crosswalks
designed to work in conjunction with arcades or plazas located on private property.
- Acquire a site for a new public pedestrian plaza at the east of Old San Carlos to
preserve access to the Marina at the Pass and crucial segment of the "Walking Path"
around the Core Area facilitating a transition from Old San Carlos to Crescent Street
and accommodating expanded activities and information kiosks related to water taxis,
a dinghy dock, and tour and cruise boats.
- Provide new on-street parking and sidewalk on the south side of Crescent Street
- Reconfigure Third and Fourth Streets with on-street parking and sidewalks on both
sides of the street.
- Complete the sidewalk and streetscape improvements for Estero Blvd. within the
Core area (bay side) with underground utilities and improved sidewalks.
Vehicular Circulation Plan
Implement traffic circulation improvements
- Eliminate the left turn movement from San Carlos Boulevard to 5th Street during peak
season. Monitor the intersection to determine the optimum times to use signalization to
restrict this movement.
- Provide a raised island and pedestrian "refuge" at that location.
- Make Times Square a pedestrian mall. (This recommendation has been implemented
as of December 1996 and should now be evaluated to determine what measures
could/should be taken to further improve its functioning.)
- Left turns onto Crescent Street from softbound traffic on Estero Boulevard should be
studied for provision of a signal.
Implement Trolley/Transit Improvements
- Consider extending trolley service past 9:00 P.M. to serve late night
- Provide trolley pull-off lanes where possible. (In addition to the pull off and shelter
recently completed as part of the streetscape improvements in Times Square, pull-offs
should be possible at the plaza at the marina and at Lynn Hall Park.)
- Provide a Disney-type step on/step off open air (electric) tram as a shuttle to
Bowditch Point Park from the parking facility on San Carlos Island (look for
enhanced funding to replace the CRA subsidy and include a modest rider fee or
"passes" purchased by motels for their patrons).
- Reroute the Lee Tran bus from the mainland to Old San Carlos Drive, then to Third
Street, Fifth Street and then back across the bridge, stopping at Third Street near the
parking lots so as not to block traffic on Old San Carlos Drive.
Implement Parking Management Plan
- The Master Plan notes that it is questionable whether parking utilization during the 3 -
4 month season would be sufficient to demonstrate financial feasibility of a costly,
publicly-financed facility. However, if a parking structure is eventually justified (either
for development by public, private, or partnership means), the appropriate location
would be to the rear of buildings facing Old San Carlos, with the prime locations
being the lot closest to the beach or the lot closest to the marina.
- Expand the supply of shared on-street parking with parallel and angled spaces
pursuant to what is shown on the Core Area Master Plan which calls for the creation
of 165 on-street parking spaces.
- Implement parking management practices that are "sensitive to the visitor experience
and business operations."
- Encourage the private sector to build and operate expanded parking areas by public
sector (CRA) assistance with land assembly.
Implement the Stormwater Management Plan recommended by the Core Area
Master Plan (an exfiltration system that integrates the existing storm sewer pipe system and
inlets with exfiltration trenches under Estero Blvd.). (This has been implemented in
connection with the Phase 1 improvements and is designed for the next phase when
implemented.) The system is intended to be constructed partly with public funds but can also
be built incrementally, property by property. Similar systems to those installed in the Core
Area need to be installed for private development under parking lots or open space and then
connected to pipes which carry the water to outfall points.
Facilitate the implementation of the Core Area Master Plan's recommended
Districts and Typologies. The adoption of the Regulating Plan as an overlay district
provides the regulatory framework for encouraging the patterns and type of development
desired in each district. Additional measures recommended by the Master Plan include:
- Create a management structure that could facilitate attracting a mix of a broad range
of activities and support which will reach the critical threshold where the Old San
Carlos area will be considered as a shopping and entertainment destination. (This
could be accomplished through the Main Street program and the related entities
established and/or designated to carry out the program, including an entity such as a
- The Master Plan provides discussion of dry floodproofing methods and design;
however, there remain a number of serious feasibility considerations. The public
sector or a nonprofit entity could be of assistance to individuals seeking to develop or
improve their properties by providing technical assistance on this issue.
- "Activate" Lynn Hall Park with an expanded beach (proposed prior to the most
recent beach renourishment project) and volleyball area and a performance pavilion
(in the southeast corner of the park next to Times Square). Include a pedestrian path
linking the beach and the northern portion of Estero Boulevard. This change as shown
in the master plan necessitates the removal of one bay of parking and relocation of the
Sheriff's Trailer about 100 feet directly north of its present location.
- Establish a system for beach renourishment. (Since the Master Plan was prepared,
beach renourishment has occurred; however an entity and system should be
established to ensure the continuation of cost effective and environmentally sensitive
- Implement the streetscape improvements for Old San Carlos Drive, Crescent Street,
Center Street, and First through Fifth Street (modifications to the roadway to provide
on-street parking, new sidewalks, place utilities underground and landscape the
LEE PLAN POLICIES THAT SUPPLEMENT THE ABOVE
A Policy Analysis, dated August 16, 1996 as prepared by Spikowski Planning Associates,
compiled all relevant policies from the Lee Plan and the 1991 Estero Island CRA Plan.
Review of this document indicates that most of those policies related to the Core Area have
been taken up and moved forward in the Core Area Master Plan. Three policies from the
Lee Plan remain, however, that need to be added to our list to review.
ORIGINAL POLICY 18.3.8 (showing language added in the newly
adopted Lee Plan as policy 16.3.7)
Prior to the expenditure of public funds for the construction of new
parking facilities within the Ft Myers Beach Study Area, an analysis of
the relationship of the facility to the level-of-service on constrained and
backlogged roads shall be undertaken, in order to determine if the
location, size and function of the facility is appropriate and consistent
with the adopted CRA plan and the Traffic Circulation element of the
ORIGINAL POLICY 18.3.4
By 1992, the county shall develop a strategy limiting commercial
(greater than 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight) deliveries to non peak
traffic hours on Estero Island. Specific problem areas shall be studied,
with service delivery plans made a part of any redevelopment
Replaced in the newly adopted Lee Plan by policy 16.3.3:
The Fort Myers Beach CRA Plan will be amended by 1995 to include
service delivery plans.
ORIGINAL POLICY 18.3.2
The county shall consider regulations requiring the location of major
electric lines underground for all new and existing improvements,
public and private, after studying the subject.
Replaced in the newly adopted Lee Plan by policy 16.3.1:
The Fort Myers Beach CRA Plan shall include plans for the
undergrounding of utilities, where financially feasible.
In addition to those policies summarized above, LPA members may be aware of other issues
in the Core Area that have emerged since the above policies were adopted, that should be
addressed in our meeting on April 22, 1997, and as a part of the body of policy related to
the Core Area.