After Hurricane Ian, Adam Botana seeks funds for Southwest Florida to rebuild
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Rep. Adam Botana, R-Bonita Springs, during the House Agriculture Conservation & Resiliency Subcommittee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

'Last year, they were just digging out. Now, they’re rebuilding.'

It’s been almost a year and a half since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida. While the state has budgeted hundreds of millions to help the region, Rep. Adam Botana said his top budget priorities this year relate to damage from the storm.

The Bonita Spring Republican this year wants $2.1 million to rebuild a fire station in Sanibel, $5.5 million for a new bridge on Periwinkle Way, $8 million for a new Fort Myers Beach Town Hall and millions more for the local municipalities.

“They’re still going through it,” Botana said. “Last year, they were just digging out. Now, they’re rebuilding.”

The historic storm created lasting damage to Lee County’s coastal communities, but it also impacted property values. Botana wants more than $17 million to supplement lost revenues in Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel.

And when Botana isn’t looking at recovery from the last storm, his budget requests often consider the next one. Sustainability, he said, drove many of his appropriations priorities heading into this election cycle. He wants $950,000 for hardening a Fort Myers YMCA, $3.5 million to improve drainage on Sanibel and $10 million to ensure Lee County’s traffic signals can survive a major hurricane.

Local officials making the asks say Ian and past events like Hurricane Irma showed the need for infrastructure improvements in a coastal community.

“This stormwater management project is critical to mitigate regular flooding that is experienced in the Tradewinds area of Sanibel,” reads a request from Sanibel City Manager Dana Souza. “The flooding issues in this neighborhood were exacerbated by Hurricane Ian.”

The city’s request would supplement $700,000 secured from the Federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding (Hurricane Irma 2017) and the city has appropriated $233,000 from its own budget.

Botana noted that while many parts of Florida’s coastline remain exposed to hurricanes, Ian struck a growing metropolitan region. Lee County’s population is approaching 1 million people, something that hasn’t been slowed by the storm.

He supports rebuilding efforts in areas struck last year by Hurricane Idalia, and feels empathy for a community that just endured a similar storm event as his own.

“Idalia was big too, but it was not in the same populous area,” Botana said. “But people know the situation here and know that Hurricane Ian was a massive hurricane.”

Other appropriations requests from Botana include:

$14.1 million for Fort Myers Beach residential canal dredging.

$12.1 million for a septic-to-sewer project in Estero.

$11 million for Bonita Beach Road and U.S. 41 intersection improvements.

$10 million for Lee Health’s graduate medical education center.

$8 million for Fort Myers Beach beach renourishment.

$7.5 million for Collier County’s Palm River public utility renewal project.

$5.9 million for Florida SouthWestern State College’s Campus Police headquarters renovation.

$5 million for Sanibel road reconstruction after Hurricane Ian.

$4 million to replace Sanibel dune walkovers destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

$4 million for Florida Gulf Coast University’s River Basin Water Quality and Community Resilience Research.

$4 million for Vanderbilt Road to Hickory Drive improvements.

$3.7 million for Estero Boulevard crosswalk lighting.

$3 million for a Riverview affordable housing development.

$2.6 million for Bonita Springs’ Goodwin Street stormwater drainage and pedestrian safety improvement project.

$2.5 million for Estero’s River Oaks Preserve Improvements.

$2.2 million for Florida SouthWestern State College’s radiologic technology program enhancement.

$1.8 million for Little Pine Island Bridge repairs.

$1.5 million for the Florida SouthWestern State College’s Institute of Innovation and Emerging Technologies.

$1.5 million for Lee County park and preserve public access amenities.

$1.5 million for Bonita Springs’ Leitner Creek soccer complex.

$1.4 million for Bonita Springs’ Rosemary Drive stormwater drainage and pedestrian safety improvement project.

$1.3 million for Broadway Avenue West improvements in Estero.

$500,000 for Fort Myers Beach Stormwater improvements.

$500,000 for Lee County after-school activities.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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