Goodbye, Sleepy Beach Town

7/14/16 Seems rather a sad way to spend my birthday, seeing my city in jeopardy. The life we have here with Riley is at risk. Learning just yesterday from a friend that a road would possibly be coming down my own backyard, I attended a City Council Workshop, City of Bonita Springs, Florida Thursday July 14, 2016.

McMann Associates has been charged to study options to add traffic capacity to the area surrounding the Bonita Beach Road and US 41 Intersection. Mr. D presented a power point with input from Mr. L. The accompanying Power Point presentation will be added to the City of Bonita Springs official website.  The Quadrant Study is all new to me, however I will summarize as best I can.

City Council Workshop, July 14th 2016

This Power Point, a project layout summary, shows the early stage concepts expanding the Bonita Springs road network. The planning addresses ways for traffic to flow around our problem area and addresses access criteria.   The desire is to amplify the movement through our corridor. No other public agencies have been brought in to the planning process at this point. My original alarms went off when an early recommendation involved extending Windsor off Bonita Beach Road the preserve between Woods Edge and Vanderbilt Lakes: Our own backyard. This exact plan is no longer in the recommendation.  While some of us feel relief at the change, we should all remain involved.  The plan will very likely alter our local environment and create great direct pressure on our neighbors off unincorporated Windsor and then continue on through our green space and wrap around St. Leo’s Church.  It is likely that all area local to Windsor is about to become quite unfriendly to the homes positioned their now. We should all continue to be active and involved.

As we all recognize, Bonita Springs is growing and the traffic continues to be problematic and dangerous.  A conversation after the meeting enlightened me to the reasons that the growth must be managed but cannot be stopped.  Years ago, previous council members approved massive growth and zoning changes to the local area. Should zoning be changed our immediate area will be exposed to others coming in and demanding even more sensitive areas be opened to construction such as filling in the local swampland.  Added to this zoning issue, our roads are used as an outlet for Fort Myers Beach as they have little option for leaving their island. This traffic funnels directly through our BBR/41 crossroad.

We are all aware that an $80 million flyover has been proposed for the intersection which is highly opposed for many reasons: expense, local businesses will be removed, size, sensitive location, etc. Bonita Springs is ardently searching alternatives to the expansion of our main roads. Rather than looking at the entire county for relief, the City is focused on adding mobility capacity to the 4 Quadrants surrounding this intersection. I imagine they have little choice as the county cannot be called upon to fix our problems, especially when the funding is considered. The proposed changes will go through precious green spaces previously untouched which I have observed to be wildlife corridors.

The council feels that “the most walkable cities have the most streets.” Mr. L, mentioned earlier, feels that the large network of roads is our legacy.  He feels it is important for everyone to have a direct path to their destination (I know of a wonderful Southern California Valley he would enjoy – I’ll stay here and try to preserve a few mangroves). Observing that the majority of the council appears to agree, I do wonder about the future of our City. Does not part of the Bonita Springs vision include natural lands, wildlife, preservation, sustainability, good schools, a balanced (not overwhelming) business presence as well as a safe comfortable home for families.  The presentation repeatedly addressed concerns for local businesses, yet the people/families impacted was not part of the concern.

Livia 6-15-16 (30)The plans intend to run beside backyards and quiet streets where children now play, destroy our quiet home-life along with the biggest financial investment most of us have ever made. It is also important to have environmental impact representation.. though I have not yet discovered the appropriate agency.  The lands jeopardized are home to a pair of bobcats, fox, my favorite as most of you already know – raccoons, river otters, tortoise and turtles, armadillos and numerous bird of prey. Yes, I do see them all and suspect this area has become a wildlife corridor especially as the land around us closes in with increased building.

The area roads are going to change. “Any enhancement in network will help the area.” There is currently no timeline, recommended sequence or firm cost to the plan. My own President of Woods Edge HOW requested that the Diamond Ridge HOA, Vanderbilt and the unincorporated Windsor will want to have input or perhaps a seat at the table concerning the traffic planning.

We are very likely to lose what is special about Bonita Springs. In the end, Bonita Springs, Florida is identifies as a city… leaeving behind “the small town charm.” To my fellow residents: Why did you choose to live here?  I recommend getting an email subscription to the Bonita City Council meetings. Speak up now or you may be faced with unwelcome irreversible change.
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