Fort Myers will increase Centennial Park project budget

Fort Myers City Council increased the budget for the Centennial Park construction project Monday by more than $800,000. It pushes the total from $2 million to a little more than $2.8 million.

It’s the latest in a series of changes, but Mayor Kevin Anderson told us it won’t hold up the estimated completion of park construction. He’s optimistic the city will be able to take fences down and open up the new and improved park in January 2022.

Frankie Jennings puts on her purple sneakers, picks up her bottle of water each morning and jogs on the pavement next to the construction crews working in Centennial Park.

“I can watch the activity of the park going through its stages,” Jennings said.

Jennings is among believers in the project. She’s most excited for the new amphitheater, and she wasn’t bothered by the cost or the wait.

The park has had a lot of stages. City officials closed it down for renovations 11 months ago.

“I would always love to see it move faster sure,” Jenning said. “I don’t know when it’s supposed to be completed, if they’re on time with the schedule.”

Anderson acknowledges the park has taken longer than most of Fort Myers would have liked.

“It’s moving along. It’s been a slow process. We’re optimistic, by the end of January, it should be complete,” Anderson said. “There have been a few snags, one of them over a million-dollar grant from the State of Florida.

Council wanted that million-dollar grant to go exclusively to playground equipment for children with special needs. But Mayor Anderson told us the former city manager allocated those funds to the pavilion, restrooms and other park amenities. However, council got its way, and the grant money will go to the playground.

Council must find a way to allocate more money for planned park amenities. We asked the mayor, prior to approval, if he believes the budget increase is worth it.

“We’re trying to grow the city forward, and parks are a great amenity for all people,” Anderson said. “And when it’s all said and done, I do think it’ll be worth it.”

The story that aired at 6 p.m. Monday came ahead of the approval for the budget increase in Fort Myers.  

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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