Neighbors split on Lehigh Acres Park expansion

Lee County wants to acquire more land to expand Lehigh Acres Park. The effort is motivation to keep kids out of trouble by giving them a positive outlet to enjoy.

The project would be funded by taxpayers in part of unincorporated Lee County, and the plan would extend Lehigh Acres Park by an estimated 45 acres; however, the plan is split by those against it and those in favor.

“Definitely, Definitely,” Eddie Soto said. “Because they get bored, so, you know, kids get curious say, ‘Hey, what if we do something like this?’ And it leads them down the wrong path.”

The location of Lehigh Acres Park is 1400 W 5th Street, off Williams Avenue.

For some who enjoy the park, they also like seeing the beauty of nearby trees and wooded areas.

“If it’s gotta destroy so much, you know, other acreage and stuff for everybody to do other things,” said Nick Ayers, a local swim coach. “Then, it’s kind of like, find another location or somewhere where it’s not used so much by the public.”

Lee County Parks and Recreation is behind the project proposal. Its goal is to establish new athletic fields, locker rooms, concessions and more. The project only needs approval from one more board commissioner before the fall construction could begin in early 2020.

People living nearby aren’t too worried about potential noise from construction.

“You can’t stop progress,” said Judy Prina, who lives near the park. “You know, it’s going to happen sooner or later, noise or no noise.”

Instead, they worry about the homeless people calling the woods home.

“They’re always walking through here,” said Jerry Hagadorn, who lives nearby. “Checking for doors, see if they’re open, see what they could find in the vehicles. So you’re always concerned about that.”

Not everyone sees it that way. Some feel empathy for the men and women living in the woods.

“So if I miss a paycheck or something happens, I could easily be in that position,” Randolph Carr said. “I’m sympathetic.”

Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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