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Centennial Park renovation plans receiving major pushback

Posted at 9:49 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 22:51:21-04

FORT MYERS, Fla — Cenntenial Park is closed to the public so it can undergo a serious renovation.

But the closure means that people who have been sleeping there will have to leave the park.

Monday night, a renovation plan for Centennial Park in Fort Myers got some major push back.

That's because the work will displace more than a dozen people who struggle with homelessness and call the park's pavilion home.

A few days ago, one of those people told us they stay here because city and county shelters are full.

"What are we gonna do pick another park? What can we do?" Rambo said.

The park's discussion also comes the same night that the city council voted to give the city manager a raise.

"Yes sir, you do deserve that you have been doing incredible work for the city," one resident said, "But do you have money that you have for him, do you have that for this group of people?"

The councilman who represents the park's district says he understands this is an issue and says it's one that won't be fixed overnight.

"First of all, a public park is not a housing complex," said Councilman Kevin Anderson.

"We have an issue with the homeless, and we need to get a handle on that, and COVID-19 has really brought that to the forefront."

Some are calling on the city to postpone the work until they find temporary shelter for the people living there and eventually a permanent solution.

"I like the idea of the fire station which sits vacant," one resident said.

"There's showers there; there's restrooms there, there's bathrooms there, there's a roof. Just a roof is all they need."

FOX 4 also asked if the renovations could be stopped until a plan was put together for the people who call the pavilion home.

But councilman Anderson said he wasn't sure because the grant funds being used for the construction may have time restrictions in place.