City hopes to turn ‘Rat Island’ into a destination with new Legacy Island Park

Changes are coming for Legacy Island Park.

A compromise, creating the park, allowed the city to build the Luminary Hotel.

If you leave downtown Fort Myers behind, pass the Caloosahatchee and Edison Bridge ahead, you’ll find an island known as “Rat Island” to some and likened by the mayor to “Gilligan’s Island.”

But come October 2021, this overgrown plot of land will become Legacy Island Park.

The city hopes it will become a top destination for boaters like Beth Deaton.

“We’ve just been watching, waiting for them to develop it because we will definitely use it,” she said. “It’s a great little place.”

Clearly, others already use the island informally. There’s a rope swing, chairs and even a fire pit.

Firepit on Rat Island (WINK News)

But park construction is gearing up, working to add footpaths and clearings.

“This way you can pull up there and take a little walk and maybe have a picnic and enjoy it,” Deaton said.

The park is a compromise to the distant relatives of the family who originally owned the land where the new hotel is going up.

The original deed said the property could never be used for commercial purposes. The family waived the restriction when the city offered to build Legacy Island Park.

“The city is getting more park space,” said City Council Member Liston Bochette. “More than quadrupling it. The family seems to agree with it.”

When the park is complete, there will be two gazebos, signs and seats—all with a waterfront view, all with an ADA accessible dock.

But getting there: that’s still murky.

“I think it’s great for the tourists that come in. They probably don’t have a boat and they can get on a ferry and go over there and enjoy it because this is a beautiful place,” Deaton said.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
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