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BONITA SPRINGS | City leaders talk fate of Everglades Wonder Gardens

Posted at 12:02 AM, Nov 02, 2023

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — The Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs is on the city council agenda Wednesday night. It's board and city councilors are discussing if the gardens will stay or go, after 9 decades in operation.

“The gardens have been the history of Bonita," Neil Anderson, CEO & President of the Gardens said.

It’s a space, important to many in the city, serving the community with a small zoo.

"We manage the facility," Anderson said.

The city owns the land and building. Bonita Springs is paying for repairs to the site after Hurricane Ian. The Gardens pay one dollar each year in rent to the city.

“We had 3 and a half feet of storm surge through the entire garden. We’re getting close to getting where we really feel like it’s 100% back," Anderson said.

In Wednesday night’s city council meeting Jesse Purdon, councilman serving district 2, said everything the Gardens spends over $5,000 the city should be made aware of.

The city is calling for full transparency in the renovation process. This includes the condition of animal enclosures, staying on top of termites, and asbestos.

Laura Carr, councilwoman serving district 3, says one fix she hopes to see at the Gardens is more parking and a clear walking path into the building.

“If we can get into agreement, there has to be checks and balances, on not only the financials, but everything going on in that building. If not, that’s not going to work for us," Purdon said.

There will be more meetings between the Everglades Wonder Gardens staffers and city council to allow collaboration in deciding the fate of the space.