Estero’s planned new school raises environmental, traffic concerns

The people of Estero will discuss building a new school at a meeting of the Planning and Zoning Board at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Parents say the kids need more schools, but there are concerns about the building destroying wetlands and displacing wildlife.

The school district already owns the plot of land off Three Oaks Parkway, and it is ready to build a new elementary and middle school, but the location isn’t popular with those who live next door.

“I would love to have the school here,” said Mary Beth Ocean of Estero. “I wish we had a secondary road for that school to go on; schools are good for land values, this is a good thing for schools, but this particular situation does not seem right.”

Ocean says she supported the initial plan, which called for the two schools to be off of Williams Road, right near Estero High School. She says that location takes the increase of traffic away from Corkscrew Road. She fears this new location, which backs up to her neighborhood, will increase flooding.

“My concerns, basically, is the water: Where is the water going to go?” Ocean said. “Are they going to build a stormwater retention area to accommodate the runoff water? And then the second, very important: How are we going to handle the traffic? It’ll be a nightmare, it certainly will be a nightmare.”

5,000 homes are being built off of Corkscrew Road. To keep up with the growth, nearby homeowners say east of I-75 is a better home for the two schools. Scott Gulick and dozens of his neighbors are taking their concerns to Tuesday’s meeting at the Council Chambers of Village Hall, 9401 Corkscrew Palms Circle. The board will listen to all the comments, then submit its recommendation to council. Ultimately, the decision will be in the council’s hands.

“The population growth is not in this area, the population growth is east of I-75, and why all of a sudden was it changed from Williams Road to Three Oaks?” Gulick said.

The school district says it aims to open these schools by fall of 2023. According to the disctrict, more than 1,000 elementary and middle school students are expected to move to the area by 2030, and it’s trying to be proactive in curbing future overcrowding issues.

Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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