Infrastructure was the key theme of the Lehigh Acres Community Council meeting on Monday where plans to widen Homestead Road were presented.
The road will be expanded to a four-lane divided highway starting north of Alabama Road and ending south of Sunrise Boulevard, according to a presentation from Kris Cella, a representative of the consulting firm Cella Molnar & Associates.
The total project budget is $14.4 million, with $12.8 million coming from Lee County and $1.6 million coming from utility provider FGUA for utility construction.
The widening of Homestead Road was a key topic during the Lehigh Acres Community Council meeting on Monday.
Cella was joined by the project manager and deputy project manager for the Lee County Department of Transportation. According to project manager Vince Miller, construction should be completed in 2019.
"We're going to have six-foot sidewalks and four-foot bike paths in each direction," Miller said. "You're going to have a totally different feel, you're going to have better mobility, you're going to have better visibility and be able to see what's happening ahead of you."
"We're anticipating the project to begin March 20 and we will have approximately 30 months - two and a half years - of construction time," he added.
An informational meeting for the public will be held on March 15 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Park Recreation Center, at 55 Homestead Road S.
A website also will be created for the project that will provide basic information and will allow for public comment on any issues with the ongoing construction.
Cella will return for the council's next meeting to discuss additional road construction projects in the Lehigh area. The meeting will be held on March 20 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lee County Sheriff's Office East District substation, at 1301 Homestead Road N.
Proposed park location a win-win
Another infrastructure presentation was provided on Monday by Elizabeth Pineda of Early Steps, a program that provides services to the families of infants and toddlers who may experience delays in early development.
Her presentation advocated for the construction of a park on the land adjacent to the East County Regional Library, at 881 Gunnery Road N.
She emphasized the importance of community gathering places like parks to attract new residents, increase appeal to new businesses, and ensure children and adults have a safe and positive place to spend their free time in a community setting.
Pineda said the proposed park's location would be particularly advantageous as it would draw more families to the library and its various programs, while also allowing children involved in those programs an opportunity to expend some youthful energy before returning to a quiet library setting.
The proposed park would feature the normal play equipment for children, aiding in their early socialization, but would also include features like fitness stations for adults to increase the utility of the park.
Lehigh Acres Community Council President Rick Angilickis suggested that having a more concrete idea of the equipment, work and costs involved with the park's construction would make the idea more palatable to the Lee County Board of County Commissioners, which would have to approve construction of the park.
He assigned multiple council members to work with Pineda to draw up more specific plans to present to the commission.