Lee County to spend $1.3M on more shade at public parks

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Lee County commissioners are investing over $1 million in adding shade to the county’s parks.

The Florida heat is no joke; we all know the feeling of trying to enjoy the outdoors before becoming exhausted by high temperatures, and the slides and other equipment at public parks get dangerously hot in the summer months. Lee County commissioners now want to mitigate that problem by adding shaded structures to the playgrounds and ballfields at 10 Lee County parks.

Some parks in Lee County, like Buckingham Park, already have shade structures on their playground and ballpark areas. Some of the parks to get more shade would include Manatee Park, Three Oaks Park and Lehigh Acres Park. Back in December, commissioners approved shade structures at five other parks. The county is also adding shaded structures at library branches including Bonita Springs, North Fort Myers and East County Regional.

Construction is expected to start this week.

Shade at a Lee County public park. Credit: WINK News

WINK News asked Lee County neighbors if they are looking forward to more shade, and they were nearly unanimous in saying it was sorely needed.

“It’s awesome, ’cause people need to get outside and be able to gather, but they also need to be able to feel comfortable,” said Eric Wundrak. “Be comfortable and we can walk longer and spend more time outside.”

Jesse Lavender, director of Lee County Parks and Recreation, says his department eventually wants to expand to more parks and is even considering adding fans, too.

“Try to provide more shade at all of our baseball, softball, football, soccer, those type of athletic fields, so parents don’t have to bring their own pop-up tent, things like that,” Lavender said.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday to award the $1.3 million contract for shaded structures. The project is expected to be finished by the fiscal year 2022-2023.

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