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"We're not gonna give up," Parents fight to get school bus stop moved

bus stop marina bay
Posted at 9:29 PM, Mar 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-27 21:29:11-04

GATEWAY, Fla. — Cars zip down Treeline Avenue daily which can cause concern for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and children. The Marina Bay subdivision bus stop sits in front of their gated neighborhood at the intersection of Treeline and Silver Ridge Boulevard.

Lee County Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier said he won't move the stop after parents went to a Transportation Review Committee, and Dr. Bernier visited the location.

"We're not gonna give up," India Palencia said. She started the original petition to move the bus stop.

For more on the story, find previous reporting here.

The Marina Bay community hoped the Lee County School Board would overturn the Superintendent's decision on the bus stop at Tuesday's school board meeting.

At the meeting, Palencia felt the board and Dr. Bernier ignored their concerns even with a letter of support from Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson.

She said, "It can be very disheartening as a process to begin with...Then, the kind of communication, Dr. Bernier, it was very condescending. It was very disrespectful to our community."

The school district has declined to do an interview on the bus stop several times. However, school board member Melisa Giovannelli supports Marina Bay's efforts.

"It's a no brainer for me... I don't think you can put a price on students' safety," Giovannelli said.

She didn't motion to overturn the bus stop decision because she said she didn't have the votes from other board members.

Giovannelli said. "They would've gone either way with whatever the superintendent said. I, on the other hand, am listening to the people that live there, the children that are going to school there and getting on those buses, and I looked at it myself. There's no way that standing out on Treeline is safe."

According to the Fort Myers Police Department, from 2021 to 2024, there have been nine crashes at the intersection of Treeline Avenue and Silver Ridge Boulevard. This doesn't include two recent crashes from the past week.

The Marina Bay community wants to prevent the unthinkable since deadly crashes are not new to Treeline Avenue.

"With every fiber of my soul when that tragedy occurs, I will be holding each and every one of them personally responsible for that tragedy and disaster that they can prevent," Palencia said.

She added that they haven't decided what they're next steps will be as they try to move the bus stop inside their neighborhood.