A Milestone in Fort Myers Beach Pier Rebuild

by Richard Luthmann

The Lee County Procurement Management Department recently selected Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. for the design and permitting of the new Fort Myers Beach Pier. This selection represents a significant milestone in the reconstruction of this iconic landmark.

Devastated by Hurricane Ian, the pier’s rebuild is a complex, multifaceted project, now poised to gain momentum with Stantec’s involvement.

Stantec, a globally renowned firm with a presence in 400 locations across six continents, was chosen from a competitive field of four finalists, which included WGI, Inc., Coastal Engineering Consultants, Inc., and Kisinger Campo & Associates, Corp. The selection process, culminating on January 24, was rigorous, involving meticulous evaluation of proposals from seven companies that responded to the county’s solicitation for an engineering and design firm on January 10.

The selected firm’s approach prioritizes community-centric designs and innovative solutions and was pivotal in their selection. Stantec’s philosophy of integrating diverse perspectives to foster shared success aligns with the ambitious goals of the pier rebuild. Their track record in pier construction and reconstruction, both in the U.S. and internationally, further bolstered their candidacy.

Stantec’s selection initiates a crucial phase in the pier’s reconstruction. The following steps involve contractual negotiations and obtaining approval from the Board of County Commissioners, anticipated in April. This process is expected to set a comprehensive design and permitting phase in motion, underlining the intricate and lengthy nature of such a significant undertaking.

The project currently sits in the FEMA Public Assistance Environmental/Historic Preservation (EHP) queue, a status that, while placing the project on hold, does not impede the county’s funding or construction timeline. Once Stantec finalizes the design and submits it to FEMA, the agency will commence its review processes. It’s important to note that FEMA’s Public Assistance is a reimbursement program, meaning that Lee County will not receive funds until invoices are submitted.

FEMA’s involvement is crucial, as the agency prefers restoring structures to their pre-disaster state. However, Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman has indicated possibilities for a more resilient reconstruction using FEMA funds, although these details are yet to be finalized.

The design process, a critical rebuild component, will take 12 to 18 months. This phase is not just about architectural and engineering specifics; it also involves navigating new code requirements and contemporary construction materials and processes. The county has provided pre-disaster construction plans for the pier to FEMA, but changes are anticipated due to these factors.

The Fort Myers Beach Pier, a popular tourist destination known for its scenic sunsets, is set to transform beyond physical reconstruction. Stantec’s selection heralds a new chapter that promises to restore a beloved community landmark and enhance it in line with modern standards and expectations.

In tandem, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council has proposed raising parking fees at Lynn Hall Park to support a more ambitious pier project. However, the ultimate design and scope of the rebuild, particularly regarding dimensions and resilience, remain subjects of ongoing discussion.

The selection of Stantec marks a critical juncture in the Fort Myers Beach Pier rebuild, setting the stage for a project that will likely shape the community’s landscape for years to come. With a focus on innovative design and community integration, the rebuild is not just a restoration project but a step towards reinvigorating a key component of Lee County’s cultural and recreational identity.