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FASTER OR SLOWER: the debate is on for how to rebuild Fort Myers Beach Pier

Town leaders told Fox 4's Ft Myers Beach Community Correspondent Anvar Ruziev they want to double the size of the old pier, while others just want to see it finished as soon as possible.
Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 16, 2024

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — The iconic pier at Times Square on Fort Myers Beach is finally on track for reconstruction. The Lee County Commissioners have selected Stantec to handle the design of the new pier, with plans to rebuild it to its former state, but with a slight expansion.

The proposed plan is to reconstruct the pier to its original length but make it four feet wider for more resilience. However, this plan may see significant alterations. People on Fort Myers Beach, led by Councilwoman Karen Woodson, are pushing for a more ambitious rebuild.

“We thought it would be kind of interesting if we made it 928 feet by 22 feet wide. 9/28/22, the day of Hurricane Ian," Woodson explained.

Comparison of pier lengths across different cities
Various pier lengths compared to Fort Myers Beach

This proposal would nearly double the pier’s previous size of 520 feet long and eight feet wide. During a Tuesday's meeting, Lee County Commissioners agreed to review the costs of extending the pier further than originally planned.

Currently, funding from F.E.M.A. covers only the cost of rebuilding the pier to its previous specifications, leaving the county to source additional funds for any expansions.

Rendering of Fort Myers Beach Pier Suggestion, two levels with fishing and picnic tables on one side and covered shade area on the other.
Suggestion of possible design for the longer pier

Commissioner Brian Hammon expressed concerns about the timeline but remained optimistic about the project's progress.

“It might not be until about the fifth anniversary of the storm that we can see the pier fully rebuilt, but I think we need to do everything we can to charge toward that goal,” said Hammon.

Rendering of Fort Myers Beach Pier Suggestion, two levels with fishing and picnic tables on one side and covered shade area on the other. Different Angle
Suggested design includes a lower level and upper level to accommodate more sunset viewers.

The additional length is estimated to extend construction by about eight months, but Woodson believes the improved visitor experience will be worth the wait.

Opinions among visitors near the former pier were evenly split, with many favoring a quicker rebuild to enjoy the area sooner, while others expressed a preference for a longer pier for its appeal and functionality.

The design phase for the new pier is projected to last between one and a half to two years, followed by the bidding process for construction firms.