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Sanibel Island re-opens up to general public

Sanibel Island
Posted at 11:17 AM, Jan 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-02 18:25:20-05

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. — Anyone who wants to go to Sanibel Island is now allowed to. The Sanibel Causeway opened up to all drivers on Monday morning, which has been a controversial topic for weeks.

Back in December, Sanibel City Council voted to reopen on January 2. The City said it received more than 500 e-mails, asking council members to not reopen just yet. They wanted to keep it accessible to only homeowners and passholders.

"The realities are we need to rebuild the island and the only way we’re going to rebuild the island is get help over here," said Bill Letendre, owner of Blue Giraffe Island Dining. "I can see where there’s a lot of apprehension the part of some folks."

Previously, Mayor Holly Smith the decision wasn't because of tourism, but recover.

"I think it’s the only way we’re going to be able to rebuild the island. We need as many volunteers as possible," Letendre said. "A lot of folks want to come over here and help clear the beers, clear the beaches. And the only thing we’re going to do that is open the island."

It's an exciting time for Letendre, too. He opened up a Blue Giraffe food truck on Monday. Hurricane Ian destroyed his restaurant, but he's thrilled to be back open even if it's not where he exactly wants to be.

"Hopefully accommodate a lot of the visitors as well as the workers and the residents here on the island," he said. "I just think the future's going to be very bright."

The City Manager said back in December Sanibel will have extra security due to the increase in people. They'll also enforce the curfew, which is from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

All beaches and beach parking lots are closed. The City of Sanibel has also installed a fence to keep visitors out as the island rebuilds.