Gateway Sun

The good news is the Lee County School District has finally decided where they want to build the new high school in Bonita Springs.

The bad news is if they try to build it on Imperial Parkway as planned, the nearby Hawthorn Community Association will file a lawsuit against the school district to put a stop to it.

So said Hawthorn’s attorney, Sarah Spector.

“The association is prepared to take all action necessary to have the school removed from consideration,” Spector told Lee Schools officials at the January 27, 2016 school district meeting, according to the Naples Herald.

The problem is that every time the LCSD says they want to build somewhere in Bonita Springs, the immediate reaction from those who live close-by is to blast the school district and threaten legal action against them.

Some of the residents of the Magnolia Lakes community in Gateway can relate to what the people in Hawthorn are feeling. So far 23 people have signed a petition against building a high school in Gateway, and it would appear most (all?) of them live in Magnolia Lakes.

The reason? The parcel of land owned by the LCSD that would be used to built a Gateway High School is right next to Magnolia Lakes.

In the Hawthorn case, those residents say they bought in that community with no expectation that a high school would ever be built nearby. Hawthorn residents told the School Board that they chose that community to live out their “golden years” and that a high school would destroy their quiet lifestyle.

However, the LCSD has owned the land next to Magnolia Lakes – with posted signage stating it could be used as a site for a school in the future – long before most homeowners in that community purchased their homes.

A competing petition in favor of a new high school in Gateway has over 450 signers. Most Gateway residents are heavily in favor of having a new school built here, which is a stark contrast from the angry mobs in Bonita Springs.

None of that matters to Magnolia residents like Scott Dennis, who wrote on the anti-school petition: “We love our view and how quiet it is here. If a school is built right in our back yard all of that will be gone!”

Frank Stiglich wrote: “Oppose due to unsafe traffic conditions on highway 82. Increased traffic will result in more fatalities.”

Those in Magnolia Lakes who are opposed to the school will be monitoring the events in Bonita closely. If a legal strategy works for the Hawthorn HOA, they might consider using a lawsuit as an obstacle to the LCSD in Gateway as well.

The next Lee County School District board meeting is on February 9, 2016.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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