Sanibel Island, Florida — Anyone who wants to go to Sanibel Island can now do so. The Sanibel Causeway opened to all drivers on Monday morning.
Back in December, the Sanibel City Council voted to reopen on January 2nd. The city said it has received more than 500 emails asking city council members not to reopen yet. They wanted access only to homeowners and passholders.
“The reality is that the island needs to be rebuilt, and the only way to rebuild it is with help here,” said Bill Letendre, owner of Blue Giraffe Island Dining. “I can see where some of the people have a lot of anxiety.”
Previously, Mayor Holly Smith’s decision was not for tourism, but for recovery.
“I think that’s the only way the island can be rebuilt. We need as many volunteers as possible,” Letendre said. “A lot of people want to come here and help clean up the beer and clean up the beach. And the only thing we’re going to do is open up the island.”
It’s an exciting time for Letendre, too. He opened his Blue Giraffe food truck on Monday. Hurricane Ian destroyed his restaurant.
“We hope to be able to accommodate many visitors, not just workers and residents of the island,” he said. “I think the future is very bright.”
The mayor said in December that Sanibel will have more people, so security will be increased.
All beaches and beach parking lots are closed. The city of Sanibel also installed a fence to keep visitors out as the island was rebuilt.