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Church's plan to convert former gym into a Christian school raises traffic concerns

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jan 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-25 18:00:49-05

NAPLES, Fla. — Several people in Naples are expressing concerns over a local church's plan to convert a former fitness center into a new site for the Naples Christian Academy.

While the idea of a new school site has exciting many who currently send their kids to it, neighbors who spoke to Fox 4 are worried about the potential increase in traffic and its impact on their safety.

In January, the Covenant Presbyterian Church of Naples closed a deal on a vacant building and lot on Golden Gate Parkway for $12.2 million. However, because the school will be right by a busy intersection, people living at the dead end road are pushing for a traffic light to be put in.

"Come see what we have to deal with on a daily basis," urged David Shoham, a concerned resident in the area.

Shoham emphasized the lack of attention from the county regarding their concerns over the past three years.

David's wife, Zara Shoham, said she often avoids making trips at certain times of the day given how long it could take for her to cross the intersection to go west.

"It's really a nightmare," Zara Shoham told Fox 4.

While the Shohams are not against the idea of a new school, they stress the stress the importance of safety measures to handle uncontrolled traffic with kids around. They say they have been advocating for a traffic light at the intersection of Golden Gate Parkway and Collingtree Court for over three years, attending county meetings and speaking to public officials.

"It could be a traffic light during the busy times. It could be a weighted traffic light, caution signs… Whatever, we're just needing something because adding another 225 students and having all the parents come here is going to be extremely challenging, to say the least," said David Shoham.

The Covenant Presbyterian Church has the green light for its school plans, and says its approval was conditional on several factors, including internal traffic flow.

John Hunter, the Executive Director of the Covenant Church, explained that with their large space, they will be able to handle parents picking up and dropping off their kids with ease.

The Covenant Church of Naples says renovations will be underway shortly. Hunter says the school will be ready for students as early as the 2025-26 school year.