People living in the River Park neighborhood in Naples filed a lawsuit against the city this week, claiming the city council violated their civil rights by approving a new 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station at the entrance to their street.
The store would be located at the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue North and Goodlette-Frank Road, which is the only way in or out of the largely African-American neighborhood. Residents are concerned about the traffic the 7-Eleven would create, especially for children walking to and from school.
"The safety of the kids, that's my biggest concern," said Curtis Williams, a River Park resident, noting that the only sidewalk for Fifth Avenue North is on the same side of the street as the proposed convenience store.
"We all know that cars leaving a gas station aren't always going to be careful," said attorney Mimi Wolok, who represents the 22 River Park residents who filed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the project going forward, stating that most of the plaintiffs "are owners of property adversely affected by Defendant's actions," and that approval of the project "violate(s) the civil rights of Plaintiffs under the Fair Housing Act."
"There's going to be gas spillage from the patrons, the people pumping their gas," Wolok said. "Which the school children and everyone else that passes by are going to smell, and that's carcinogenic."
Fox 4 reached out to Naples Mayor Bill Barnett and City Attorney Robert Pritt. Both said that they could not comment on the lawsuit.
They did listen to public comment at Wednesday's council meeting from residents concerned about kids walking by the 7-Eleven.
"We asked some of the councilmen: would you want it in your neighborhood?" said Williams. "They said no. If they don't want it in their neighborhood, why bring it to my neighborhood?"
Barnett said at the meeting that he wasn't opposed to looking at changing the traffic patterns as part of the project, but said that the cost would not be cheap.