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$6 million in upgrades coming for Cleveland Ave in Fort Myers

Posted at 7:35 AM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 07:35:14-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The safety of Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers, with its narrow sidewalks and close pedestrian proximity to speeding traffic, is something the city is planning to address.

According to a city-commissioned study, approximately 55,000 drivers pass through this area every day, making it a bustling hub for traffic and commercial activity, however community members describe the stretch of US-41 from Edison Ave to Boy Scout Drive as "ugly," "blighted," and "unsafe for pedestrians.

Outlined areas where CRA development may occur

Uncle Rico's Pizza, a business that opened two years ago along this route, sees a quarter of its customers come from street traffic.

uncle rico's pizza -FTM REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY

"Pedestrian safety is always a plus. We've really noticed a lot of traffic accidents in the past," said Cira Aguila, the owner of Uncle Rico's Pizza.

Addressing these concerns, the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency has enlisted an engineering consultant with a $6 million budget to improve Cleveland Avenue.

Mellone Long, Assistant Director of the agency, emphasized the unique identity of the area, "We don’t want to make Cleveland Avenue downtown; we want to make it the best Cleveland Avenue it can be."

This year, the city has already allocated $400,000 of the $500,000 budgeted for the Cleveland area, primarily for grants to help local businesses enhance their building facades. However, the turnout of business owners at the Thursday meeting was notably low, with several, including Uncle Rico's, unaware of the event.

Over the coming month, plans for a landscaping initiative will be unveiled as part of the redevelopment efforts. However, the dialogue about Cleveland Avenue's future is ongoing. Another workshop is scheduled for June 25, which will continue to address community concerns and involvement.