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Six-mile linear park to be added along Able Canal

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Apr 28, 2021

news@breezenewspapers.com

A new park is coming to Lehigh Acres.

An interlocal agreement between the Lee County Board of County Commissioners and the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District was approved last week calling for the county to develop, operate and maintain a 6-mile long linear park along the northern side of Able Canal.

The LA-MSID, which owns the property, will be closely involved in the design, permitting, construction and subsequent operation and maintenance of the park. The district will also be responsible for the operation and maintenance of infrastructure that is not associated with the linear park project.

Two million dollars is being contributed by Lee County and the Florida Department of Transportation is contributing $4.9 million for the project.

Parks & Recreation Director Jesse Lavendar said the linear park has been in the works for some time. He said with the agreement being solidified last week with the Lee Board of County Commissioners, a design contract will be brought before the board again in June.

“It’s very exciting stuff for the Lehigh Acres area,” Lavendar said, adding that the path will tie into the Lehigh Community Park off Williams Road, which also is undergoing a designing expansion for that park. “I’m very pleased with getting to this point finally.”

The shared-use pathway of the linear park will have connections to Harns Marsh, Lehigh Acres Park/Barbara Farrell Park, Lehigh Elementary School and Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park.

Although the design work still needs to be done for the linear path, Lavendar said he is anticipating it to have benches, landscaping, pavilions and trash cans, as well as pedestrian bridges.

“There is going to be a significant enhancement. It’s not just asphalt, (there will be) greenery and places to sit and signage, of course, to let you know what mile you are on. It’s going to be really cool,” he said.

Lavendar anticipates the construction of the pathway for Abel Canal to begin in 2023.

The Community Park, which is almost to 30 percent of the design phase, is anticipated to hopefully begin construction next year. Lavendar said the county bought 47 acres adjoining to Lehigh Community Park, with a small portion being given to Lee County Transit for a transfer station.

“So there will be buses next to the park and three new football, soccer fields, pickle ball courts,” he said, adding that other typical amenities will be included such as locker rooms, bathrooms and concessions.

There will also be several little ponds allowing individuals to go fishing and a 9-hole disc golf course.

“It’s going to be a really cool expansion project,” Lavendar said.