Charlotte County considers purchasing state rest area

Author: dave culbreth
Published: Updated:

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.-  In November, the State of Florida announced it was going to shut down a local rest area.

The state says only 750 vehicles a day stop there and that’s not enough to justify keeping it open. However, some local drivers disagree.

“The truckers I’ve talked with and the people I’ve talked to that come here on a regular basis, they’re not happy about it at all,” said rest area employee Terry.

State officials have said that their research shows that people no longer use rest stops like they did years ago when interstates traveled through mostly rural areas. They say now people want exits with fast food places.

“There’s no way the local businesses can handle that. Local businesses couldn’t handle the big trucks that come here,” added Herman Velasco, who uses the rest area daily. “Those operators don’t want people to just go in there to use the bathroom. They want people to go in there and sit down and have a meal.”

“There isn’t a bathroom for 67 miles from the Skyway Bridge so if you close this down, all the exits are gonna be overflowed with people,” explained George who drives from St. Pete to Naples every day.

WINK NEWS has learned that Charlotte County is considering buying the rest area. At this point, the plan is in the preliminary stages so there are no cost estimates.

“The average number of cars going through there a day is about 750 which for us is a lot but for the state maybe well below the threshold,” said Lorah Steiner, Charlotte County’s Director of Tourism. “If there were a visitor’s center on that property, we would see it to be a bit more expansive than just a place to distribute brochures. One of my dreams is to have an interpretation of the ecology of this area because that’s what brings people here.”

The state has said it will close the rest area down in January.

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