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Lehigh park expansion closer to realization

By MELISSA BILL - | Nov 18, 2020

news@breezenewspapers.com

A Lehigh Acres park is set to get nearly $700,000 in improvements.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners voted last Tuesday to award a contract to design an expansion to Williams Park. The plans include three football fields, restroom facilities, nature trails and other features.

Williams Park/Lehigh Acres Park is one of the oldest parks in Lehigh Acres.

The county’s agreement is with Johnson Engineering Inc. for $699,890 to design the development of 52 acres to accommodate the growing demands at the park located at 1400 W. 5th  St.

Lee County Parks & Recreation Director Jesse Lavender said the anticipated timeline to open the park to the public is two and a half years.

“As a part of that design, Johnson will give us a complete timeframe for their work, construction to close out. As soon as the design phase is complete, they can then start construction. Our goal is to get things built as quickly as possible,” Lavender said.

The design effort is expected to take about a year and will include plans for:

• Three football fields with lighting

• Permanent restroom facilities

• A new concession building

• Locker room

• Covered outdoor space

• Paved parking lot

• Pavilions

• Nature trails

“Once complete, this will be a great addition to Parks and Rec and the Lehigh area. There will be two separate facilities to home our two major county leagues for softball and football,” Lavender said. “Now that Lehigh has grown so much, we really need that space to dedicate to each team and hopefully accommodate soccer groups as well.”

The new Lehigh Park design will also feature trails for walking and fishing opportunities.

“There will be a trail system that we will put in place, which will be fun for anyone who likes walking or jogging. Plus pavilions and pick tables and an area for fishing. Other amenities we are looking to add include a pickle ball courts and a disc golf course if the funding allows for it,” Lavender said. “The project will also accommodate additional parking spaces to help with the overflow.”

According to Lavender, the park expansion is a long-time in the making.

“We have seen a real need for expansion since 2014, so have kept our eyes on the real estate market out there and when the land became available, we jumped on it,” Lavender said.

 In 2018 and 2019, Lee County Commissioners purchased land adjacent to the existing park to accommodate the expansion. The most recent acquisition was three acres purchased for $70,000. That parcel of land was in addition to another 49.43 acres the board agreed to purchase earlier in 2019.

The original 20-acre park was donated by Lehigh Corporation back in 1976. That same year, the football field was built and dedicated. In 1977, tennis courts, baseball fields, and softball field were completed. Then in 1985, the Lehigh Community Pool was added. Other enhancements were also completed throughout the years including a third picnic pavilion, new swings and a playground, plus ENERGI Exercise Stations.

The park is at 1400 W. 5th Street, Lehigh Acres. For more information about Lee County Parks & Recreation locations, amenities and other special events, visit  www.leeparks.org, call 239-533-7275 or email  leeparks@leegov.com.