FORT MYERS, Fla. - It's been years in the planning, and this week, downtown is finally seeing the start of the water basin project.
Tuesday, crews were moving dirt near the Art of the Olympians building, paving a temporary parking lot that will offset the spaces lost when part of the Harborside lot is fenced off next week.
"Sunday they'll be restriping the parking lot behind Harborside so that we can keep half of that in operation," says Don Paight, Executive Director for the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency. "Fencing will begin going up around the construction site, and about a week from now you'll see actual construction going on."
Paight says crews will first work on scraping down the asphalt and relocating trees and powerlines. Then excavation will start on the actual basin.
"Definitely by June you'll see some dirt coming out," Paight says. "Hopefully by the end of June, you'll start to see most of the dredging finishing up."
According to Paight, the effect on downtown should be minimal, with Edwards Drive being the only long-term road closure. He also says construction trucks will not be allowed to travel through downtown, and the contractor will fine subcontractors who don't comply.
"Starting out with a $250 fine going up to a $5,000 fine," Paight says. "So he's very serious about not disrupting the businesses."
The work is already drawing curious spectators, like Tunis Rogers and her family, who were on a walk when they noticed the construction.
"I think it'll be good for Fort Myers, especially the tourists that come," Rogers says.
The project is expected to wrap up by October.