Fort Myers Beach officials are currently working to make the Mound Key Archeological State Park officially part of the town. The largely undisturbed shell mound in Estero Bay was believed to be a ceremonial center for the Calusa Indians who historically controlled much of South Florida until the arrival of European explorers.
The island is owned by the state with the exception of a few acres which are privately owned by the McGee family. The McGees will have owned that parcel for 100 years this year and are interested in selling as long as the site remains undeveloped.
“If it’s annexed by the town, it might also be in the best interest of the town and the state, for the state to actually purchase it from the town and we would be willing to, at least with council’s approval, maintain what a number of people like as a concept which is a passive park on the McGee property right now,” said Fort Myers Beach Mayor Alan Mandel.
“A passive park would serve as a rest area for kayakers or people in canoes coming down the Blueway and it ties in with our Mound House Archeological exhibition here on Fort Myers Beach,” he said.
Through the plan, the town of Fort Myers Beach would pay to maintain the island, but Mandel said that cost may be offset by increased tourism revenue.
Annexing the site could also benefit property owners by reducing flood insurance premiums.
“The reason is how FEMA calculates the insurance rates and the amount of area that’s part of the equation,” said Mandel. “And so having an extension of the island out to Mound Key and some of the other islands that are in between that would be part of the annexation, it would be to the town’s benefit when that calculation is made.”
That benefit though, would not be as much as the 5 percent premium reduction initially projected by the town’s planning staff.
The next step is for the town council to approve an annexation agreement and present it to the McGee family for consideration.