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Park plans: New park being considered for Leonard Boulevard

February 26, 2014
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Dave Harner, Lee County's Parks & Recreational director brought members of the Community Council of Lehigh Acres up to date on plans for a pocket park on lower Leonard Boulevard. He spoke briefly on plans to locate a park on Leonard Boulevard during the Feb. 18 council meeting, but said a final decision had not been made yet on the parcel, but indicated that his department had one they preferred.

He said it was a 25-acre parcel and that Florida Gulf Coast University was helping him in the targeting of this parcel.

Another possible parcel on SR82 was not a good place for a park, said Linda Carter, a member of the Community Council and a member of the Lehigh Acres Fire and Control District's board of commissioners.

Article Photos

Dave Harner, director of Lee County Parks & Recreation, holds an overview photo of an area on Leonard Blvd. that is being considered for another park.

"It's just not a convenient place with all the traffic and nearby kids. It's an accident looking to happen there," Carter said.

Harner agreed and said the target really is on lower Leonard Boulevard in Lehigh.

Some $4 million has been earmarked for parks for Lehigh and Mohamad Yasin, another member of the Community Council told Harner that the council which represents the community "was thankful. It looks extremely good."

However, Anthony Coy, a newer member of the Community Council, wondered who would keep the park clean in the area that is being considered.

"In that area, I can see plenty of trash being left in the park," he said.

But Harner, who has served Lee County Parks and Recreation for 22 years, said usually after a park is built, the community rallies around it. The park becomes theirs and they join forces with the recreational department to keep it clean.

Coy said there was trash and down the road in the area being considered.

"The county comes out and cuts the grass along the road and there is so much litter there and it is just cut up, leaving trash all over the place," Coy said.

"But it is a great idea over there, targeting that community," Coy added.

Member Frank LaRosa suggested that youngsters be encouraged to clean up the park: "Kids such as Boy Scouts and others," he said.

Harner said to volunteer to clean up an area, a person must be 18 years of age.

Andrea Adams, another member of the Council, reminded everyone that there are "Adopt a Road" programs throughout Lehigh. She didn't know if that area had a definite organization that cleans the trash from the roads, but if people see trash, to let her know at the Sheriff's East Zone office in Lehigh.

Mohamed Yasin spoke up again and said that once the park is put there, it becomes the community park and they will keep it up.

"I think it is a good idea as it gives kids more safe things to do at the park, rather than vandalizing homes and painting graffiti on our bridges."

"This park idea is good," said Steve Conti, another member of the Community Council.

Meanwhile, Robert Saul, another member of the council, complained that people were coming through his property which backs up to the new Trailhead Park, located at 213 David Ave. It features 11 acres of open space on a site that once was part of an 18-hole golf resort called Admiral Lehigh Golf Resort, which fell into disrepair during the recession.

What neighbors once called an eyesore has become an eco-park and its main feature is a half-mile paved multi-use trail encircling a three-acre replicated prairie with more than 18,000 native grasses and wildflowers.

The park also features picnic pavilions, a boardwalk and observation area with interpretive signs, an outdoor fitness area, restrooms and free parking.

Saul said many trees had been removed from behind his property and now the public is coming through his lot, some on four-wheelers and others on foot to get into the park.

While other members listened to Saul's complaints, no real answer was offered, except for a few people who laughed and suggested he get some watchdogs.

Also during the meeting, the Welcome to Lehigh Sign at the intersection of Lee Blvd. and Homestead Rd. was brought up.

It is faded and while it was once lit at night, council member Linda Carter said the bulbs must have burned out.

Carter even suggested having it pressured washed but Tami Baker, president of the Community Council, said she was afraid it would take the faded paint off and cause more problems.

She offered to supply the paint to refresh the sign that has become a landmark in Lehigh. It was constructed some years ago by a CRA group and the county has maintained the landscaping around it.

Others agreed that the signs needed fresh paint and a revamping to make it more attractive.



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