Lee County school district to spend $175,000 on construction site bothering neighbors

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Construction site of Gateway High School in Lee County seen from the vantage point of a nearby neighbor’s home. Credit: WINK News.

The new Gateway High School in Lee County is under construction, and homeowners next door say it’s getting closer and closer to them.

But the School District of Lee County says it’s now spending $175,000 to create a buffer.

We visited the school construction site along State Road 82 at the corner with Griffin Drive in Gateway Friday, where nearby neighbors are fed up with it.

“I have five daughters and three granddaughters, so the idea of a school going is fantastic,” neighbor Laura Mitchell said.

But Mitchell wasn’t expecting the new high school to look like it was part of her backyard.

“We were guaranteed that there would be some kind of barrier,” Mitchell said. “Be some kind of protection from any kind of water from receding into our property.”

A fence separating construction from nearby neighbor’s homes is barely six-feet tall. But the problem is that’s about level with the dirt they’re building on. And that dirt keeps ending up in a neighbor’s pool.

“We have to clean almost three times a day just to remove the dirt,” neighbor Luis Sepulveda said.

Neighbors are angry with the contractor in charge of the project.

“Their reason for destroying the wetlands down there was inappropriate,” Mitchell said. “They didn’t take us into consideration at all.”

The District says there’s a plan to mitigate the intrusion, and it was approved by the South Florida Water Management District.

“Meetings have been happening without inclusiveness,” Mitchell said.

The District says, to address the neighborhood’s concerns about no barrier, they added $175,000 in landscaping to create a buffer between the school property and the homeowners’ property. The plan received county approval.

Neighbors continue to want more input on what’s happening around them.

“Until that happens, we are not certain the way that this is going to come out at the end,” Sepulveda said.

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