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CROSSROADS: Plans for 700 unit RV park has part of Alva questioning area future

Caloosa 80 RV Park stirs a mix of economic optimism and environmental concerns among residents
Posted at 7:32 PM, Mar 15, 2024

ALVA, Fla. — Plans for the development of Caloosa 80 RV Park in Alva, which will feature 700 units, is stirring up a larger question about what this area is going to look like in the future.

As populations in cities increase, development of rural areas is becoming more common. Jon Heidel, a ten-year resident of Alva, said he’s seen the area change so much. "We came out here for the wildlife and peace, and that's all being torn away. I just wish they'd leave this area alone,” Heidel stated.

Heidel lives on Bateman Road off State Road 80 where the RV park is planned. In his time living in the area, he says he’s seen how congested SR-80 has become.

“You see more and more animals getting hit by cars. You already can’t move on 80 every morning,” said Heidel, adding that he believes many people move here to enjoy the rural atmosphere, so plans to develop the area dishearten him.

Contrasting with Heidel's perspective, Amanda Courtney, owner of REP Realty Group, says developments like the RV Park are actually great for Alva. She says, "It will impact our local businesses. Generate more customers for places like the Alva Diner and Infinity Steakhouse - all the small businesses that are already existing, and I think that's great for the community."

In the last 10 years, Courtney says she’s seen a big increase in people buying homes in Alva, and believes this growth isn’t going to slow down.

“It will become an extension of Fort Myers, but it will still be the same gem it’s always been. People will want to be here, and it will increase the property values for individuals who already own and live in Alva,” said Courtney.

Alva Inc., a local group dedicated to “preserving the tranquility and beauty of Alva,” held a meeting with the RV park developers to discuss the project’s final plans. To move forward, the park has to get approval to connect to future water and sewer services. Connie Dennis, the president of Alva Inc., says that’s because the original plan to build 400 units has increased to 700 units, which they’re not okay with.

“We don’t have the ability now to take care of another 700 to 1400 people that would be here,” Dennis emphasized.

Schargorodski reached out to the RV park developers for an interview but they didn’t return the calls. The approval for the park’s water and sewer connection will be discussed in a Lee County public hearing on March 25th.