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Bonita Springs residents speak out on vacant property as City Council votes on developer

Posted at 11:06 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 23:06:33-04

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — The future of a key Bonita Springs property is heating up discussion among locals.

A few proposals are being considered by the Bonita Springs City Council tonight- turning the land into commercial, residential, or public use. Not all of those in attendance, however, are on the same page.

“We’re not telling them what to do, we just want more meetings- more time.”

Along the Imperial River, at the intersection of Goodwin and Old 41, sits a five-acre vacant piece of property. Imperial Crossing- also known as the old Bamboo Mobile Village. It’s been owned by the city for 18 years. Now, the City Council is ready to choose a developer that will spur activity in the area.

“The developments that have come forward are commercial, retail, residential, and we really want to keep it as public space for the City of Bonita Springs," says Shelley Anderson, a Bonita Springs resident for the past 44 years.

Anderson resides right next door to the property. She believes the City Council is deciding too quickly on its fate.

“If they would postpone this for 9 months and have town hall meetings, have the different council districts meet with their residents and find out what do people want here?" she says.

“Part of the point is let’s define more clearly what the public wants and then move forward, rather than move forward and then kind of figure out whether the public likes it or not,” said Dwight Esmon, a Bonita Springs resident for the past 20 years.

Esmon was one of many residents to speak during Wednesday night’s meeting. He says one concerning factor about the council’s willingness to jump the gun on a decision is the fact that there are those residents who have gone away for summer vacation.

“It’s kind of like the city seems to be doing that right now," he says. "They’re saying we’ve been working on this for 18 years but they really haven’t. They haven’t had a real meeting for two years. They’ve tacked it onto other meetings but not a one directed toward this piece of property and getting public input.”

Plenty spoke their mind- both verbally and visually. While some push for the land to remain natural, in a sense, the majority are pushing for more time to decide.

“Building on that theme of water activities and bringing tourists here and families and really everybody," said Anderson. "It could be a lot of things.”

“We like these two or these three and we’re going to give them 90 days to come back with more detail and then we will decide okay, this one goes forward," said Esmon. "More time. Press the pause button as so many people said.”

According to Esmon, the Bonita Springs City Council voted on the Barron Collier Proposal for the land. The proposal is a mixed-use development that will have apartments, shops and a public walk-way along the Imperial River. He estimates that about 20% of the land will remain open to the public while the rest will be left for either residential or commercial use.