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Fort Myers Beach extends curfew causing concerns with residents

FMB lights
Posted at 6:33 PM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 19:34:17-05

FORT MYERS BEACH, FLA. — With the curfew extension on Fort Myers Beach, residents are concerned with the lack of lighting, mainly on Estero Boulevard.

Also, with many businesses still trying to reopen and recover after Hurricane Ian, some wonder if the lack of lighting is impacting businesses on the island.

When walking on Old San Carlos Boulevard, you can see a crowd of people at Wahoo Willies enjoying music, food and drinks.

However, when the sun goes down and night covers the island, Fort Myers Beach residents like, Janet Crockett say, "it's really spooky."

Crockett has lived on the island for the past six years and said she doesn't really understand the curfew extension when there is a lack of lighting.

"I came in at 10 last night, of course there was not a curfew, or no police, but it was so dark and everything was closed," Crockett said. "I think the restaurants are feeling more comfortable closing earlier."

One of Crockett's favorite restaurants is Wahoo Willies. When speaking with the General Manager, William Ignatti, he explained that he has noticed the issues with the lighting on the island.

Luckily for him and his business, Wahoo Willie sits on Old San Carlos Blvd which has more lighting than other parts of the island. Since the lighting is better around Ignatti's establishment, the restaurant will extend it's hours to 9:00 pm, starting Thursday.

But he still notices the impact the lack of lights is having on other businesses along Estero Blvd.

“There's really not that many open because of the darkness," Ignatti said. "I know there are a lot of business owners who are waiting.”

When it comes to the potential wait time for the lights on Estero to be fixed and operational, it can be another five months. During Monday's Fort Myers' Beach Town council meeting, Florida Power and Light gave a presentation on different projects for lighting. Involving 380 lights needing to be replaced along Estero Blvd.

Fort Myers Beach and FPL are hoping to replace the current 131 that were damaged during Ian at no cost to the town and adding 249 new fixtures. To align with state regulations for turtle season, all of the lights will be amber lights.

FPL explained the process of making sure the lights are following the state's requirements which could take until March 2023 for final approval. They are hoping for the new lights to be operational by June 1, 2023.