Nearby residents taken aback by Bonita High land dispute

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. Shocked.

That’s the word that best describes what Debbie Fosselman and many of her neighbors in the Hawthorne community felt when they found out their community association owns part of the land where a high school most of them never wanted is being built.

“We’ve really only had emails between us, so we’re still in the dark,” Fosselman said.

Fosselman, vice president of the Hawthorne Community Association, wasn’t one of two association representatives who met Monday with Lee County school district officials about the land dispute to try to identify how to solve the problem.

The association’s board sent an email to residents Tuesday that said, in part, “a number of options were discussed” and “the situation is being evaluated by our lawyer.” School district spokeswoman Lauren Stillwell called it a “positive conversation.”

The 150-foot strip of land Hawthorne owns on the site across from the neighborhood is in an area where the district intends to place a turn lane for buses entering school grounds.

Construction work on the 76-acre school site is causing problems for residents, with dirt and dust blowing into the neighborhood, Fosselman said.

“We have construction going on at 3 and 5 in the morning,” she said. “It’s mostly a safety concern for our residents and traffic issues and we are afraid of accidents happening out here.”

District and community association representatives plan to talk again later this week. The association will meet with its lawyer Monday, but community members would have to vote to ratify any decision before it becomes official.

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