LEE COUNTY — Signs that prohibit concealed firearms in county parks violate state law, according to a lawsuit filed against Lee County.
County Attorney David Owen told commissioners Tuesday that the lawsuit is correct because a state law, in its list of places concealed weapons are not allowed, such as courthouses and schools, did not include county parks.
Owen recommended the commissioners consider a public hearing to change the signs in parks to denote that gun carriers must be permitted and that exposed weapons are still prohibited.
“I think it's irresponsible to take this to a public hearing,” Commissioner Ray Judah said.
Owen suggested they do both and the commissioners agreed. A public hearing will be held Oct. 26.
In other news, after about 10 years, commissioners are moving forward with plans to renourish Fort Myers Beach.
A $116,000 update to the contract with Coastal Planning and Engineering, already costing about $1 million in design and permitting will expedite the process and lock in state funding for the project.
The plan is a scaled back attempt to preserve beaches on Estero Island and Lovers Key Beach.
Terry Stewart, town manager for Fort Myers Beach, appealed to the commission to move as quickly as possible to work toward beach renourishment.
“The water was almost lapping at the doorstep,” Stewart said.
Commissioner Judah, in whose district lies Fort Myers Beach, said the project has been a tedious one as the previous town council opposed the plan thinking it would draw too many tourists to the overcrowded streets.
The original plan, a $10 million project that could have received about two-thirds from state and federal grants, has since been scaled back to covering Bowditch Point to just south of the pier.
The construction will likely cost about $4 million, half of which would be covered by the state. Federal funding has been lost for the project.
Judah said he was not sure when the construction would be completed but Tuesday's actions sealed the state funds it would receive.