Bonita High School will be built on Imperial Parkway, despite contamination concerns

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jun 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 06:55:09-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The Lee County School board unanimously approved a deal to build the new Bonita Springs High School on Imperial Parkway despite contamination concerns.

"It's appalling, in my opinion, thank you, I urge you not to sign that contract," resident Barbara Watkins pleaded to the board.

The district originally rejected the deal last month after diesel contamination was found on the site. 

Attorney Ralf Brookes, who's representing neighbors living near the proposed location says he took a deposition from a worker who found asbestos on the site. 

"You're supposed to do due diligence and make sure the property you're taking is clean, or you're on the hook for it," Brookes told board members.

But the board wasn't convinced.

Superintendent Dr. Gregory Adkins says soil samples have already been taken.  The results are expected back next week, and even if there is evidence of contamination, the project could still go forward.

"I think what that causes us to do is go back and assess what is the degree of contamination, and what do we need to do about it," said Adkins.

He added, asbestos is common in homes built in South Florida before 1980.  The superintendent says he's confident staff have checked the area enough that it is considered harmless.

"From what our experts are telling us, I've talked to people who have literally been on the site, they really do not feel they are going to find anything there."

Brookes says he'll be pressing the board for the exact location on the 76 acres site where the samples were taken.

The project, including land purchase is $70 million.  The school is expected to open in time for the 2018 school year.