Cape Coral park project to claim family’s home under eminent domain

The City of Cape Coral doesn’t own enough land for a major project approved by voters. The project entails building a $60 million park. It’s expected to be a future focal point and community gathering hub in Cape Coral by 2021.

But without all the land secured to move the project along, the city needs to take use of eminent domain to purchase one last developed property, a property currently being lived in by a family.

To make the city’s Festival Park dream a reality, Cape Coral City Council will vote during a meeting Monday to use eminent domain to acquire the home along with other vacant lots.

A relative of the owner, Nancy Wickston, said her family has lived in that home for decades.

“We’re feeling very sad and hurt,” Nancy Wickston said. “They had worked hard, built this custom built house without the intentions of ever leaving.”

There are three homes among the 68 individual properties that will ultimately be part of the park. The City has already purchased two of those homes, leaving just one.

The city says they’ve been communicating with the homeowner since 2003.

A few months ago, as the project moved forward, the family said they noticed property appraisers at their next-door neighbor’s home.

“They came knocking on the door stating that they were in the neighborhood,” Wickston said. “And one thing lead to another.”

Wickston said it won’t be easy for her family to leave.

“We have Granny that’s 103 that lives here,” Wickston said. “There’s five generations under the same roof and they’re all on fixed income basically too.”

The family will get a settlement through the eminent domain process but they fear they won’t get market value.

Wickston’s family said they feel the Monday decision is just a formality. They told us they are already in the process of looking for a new place to live.

MORE: $60M approved for Cape Coral parks to accommodate population growth

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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