The Ft. Myers city council appears ready to move ahead aggressively with plans to cut a water basin from the Caloosahatchee River, into a part of downtown. The goal is to attract a major hotel to build alongside the water basin, and bring in retail shops and restaurants after that.
"This is the right time and right place for this plan. We are positioned beautifully for this to happen," said council member Mike Flanders. "I say: stay the course."
Mayor Randy Henderson agreed. "We could not be in a better position to take advantage of the economic recovery. We have to have the basin ready for a hotel to come here. That in turn will generate possibly 200-million dollars in other investment in the city."
The plan would used 5.4 million dollars in capital improvement funds to hire a company to cut the basin from the river.
Council member Johnny Streets spoke cautiously about the project. "I am still not sold. I do not believe this is the right time to do this," he said. He later noted that the city is paying off a lot of debt on major projects, including City of Palms park, abandoned by the Boston Red Sox.
The council is poised to hire a construction company in a few months, and possibly break ground on the water basin by the end of 2011. It could be finished in late summer or early fall of 2012.
Downtown leaders have tried for years to attract a major hotel to the riverfront. Supporters believe the water basin will accomplish that goal.