School board approves controversial Bonita Springs high school site

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. – Lee County school board members approved a controversial location for a new high school in Bonita Springs Tuesday evening – a decision expected to be followed by a lawsuit in an ongoing saga that has lasted for more than two years.

The controversy has drawn clear battle lines – residents thinking about the area’s future versus those who don’t want the traffic and commotion that comes with a high school.

Charles Yanni, who lives across the street from the Imperial Parkway site expected to be approved by board members, believes safety concerns – there are four gated communities nearby – and asbestos worries – construction materials were once dumped at the site – should drive the district to consider their second option on Bonita Grande Drive.

“There’s a real danger to the students here,” he said Monday. “The other site is more pristine. It is clean, there are no environmental issues.”

Yanni is part of a group of 150 neighbors who plan to sue if the Imperial Parkway location is approved.

Shelley Anderson, who lives in Bonita Springs but had to send her children to high school in Fort Myers and Estero, sees the school as something the community can rally around, especially when it comes to sports.

“I have to say the school board has gone above and beyond to really work with the community and pick the best location,” said Anderson, who also serves on the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce’s high school task force. “It is the most centrally located, it’s where most of the children are, and they are going above and beyond to buffer the site from the neighborhoods around it. So I’m really impressed by the job they’ve done.”

The high school site, located at Imperial Parkway and Shangri-la Road, will cost $71.9 million to purchase the land and build the facility. District officials expect the school to open by the 2018-19 school year.

Officials initially considered locations in Estero and near Hunters Ridge Country Club in Bonita Springs, but were driven away by opposition from neighbors.

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