More green space needed in Fort Myers; Parks ‘Master plan’ unveiled

Reporter: Andryanna Sheppard
Published: Updated:

The fate of the long-awaited park at the old Dunbar sludge site might lie in Fort Myers voters’ hands. Fort Myers Council members discussed the city’s ‘Master Plan’ at the regular Monday night meeting.

The conversation centered around how to bring more parks and green spaces to the city and it could come with a million-dollar price tag.

One possible park, the former Dunbar sludge site. The neighborhood was told it would become City View Park back in 2019. Residents are still waiting.

Current drone video of former Dunbar sludge site, CREDIT: WINK News

“I’m disappointed to see that there’s little progress on this park,” Fort Myers resident Bob Short said at Monday’s meeting. “At the same time, I see that we’re spending money on Legacy Park which is a vacant island which will benefit only those who own a boat.”

Short is referring to a small island in the Caloosahatchee, near the Edison Bridge.

Legacy Island is, we call it a future park for the City of Fort Myers,” Nicole Setzer, an engineer for the city’s Public Works Department previously told WINK News. “It is unique to us. It’s the first of its kind for us.”

Legacy Island (CREDIT: WINK News Drone).

Legacy Island, formerly known as Clint’s Island or Rat Island, will transform into a park with walking trails, a dock, an observation platform and a beach on the island.

The park was essentially a compromise between the city and distant relatives of the family who originally owned the land where the hotel was built. The original deed stated the property could never be used for commercial purposes.

Back to City View Park, Mayor Kevin Anderson asked that it be added to the Council’s next work session agenda.

One issue, as reported by WINK News Consumer Reporter Andryanna Sheppard reported prior to the Monday City Council meeting, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection wants to know the lot is safe before the City moves forward.

WINK News obtained multiple emails and documents between the FDEP and the City of Fort Myers including a groundwater monitoring report. It shows arsenic and other unhealthy minerals could be back at the sludge site.

Groundwater monitoring report, CREDIT: WINK News

Yet, there was no mention of the former sludge site, the newly discovered contaminants, or the park at Monday night’s meeting. Instead, council members heard a ‘Master Plan’ presentation from a design firm on how to fix up the parks and public spaces the city already has and how to add more.

The design firm presented a number of funding scenarios over the next 10 years to implement the first phase of the ‘Plan,’ drawing millions from donations, grants and bonds.

The City indicated to Sheppard that it plans to put the bonds on the November ballot. The ‘Master Plan’ isn’t final. Council members will learn more about it at a workshop on April 22.

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