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Lee agrees to purchase Lehigh land for 20/20

December 27, 2018
By MELISSA BILL (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lee Board of County Commissioners has authorized the purchase of 624.9 acres along Joel Boulevard in northern Lehigh Acres for Conservation 20/20. The purchase price of the parcel commonly referred to as 'GS-10" is $3.87 million.

The acquisition and development of the former mine area known as Section 10 was approved last month by the Conservation 20/20 Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee.

LA-MSID is a sponsor for the GS-10 Caloosahatchee Cross Link project, which will be a regional, multi-agency initiative to provide water storage and treatment within the Caloosahatchee watershed. Section 10 will be the site of the shared agency project.

According to Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District Manager David Lindsay, this project is a positive thing for Lehigh because it creates more storage and better water quality. The Section 10 project establishes connections between Lee County-owned lands and LA-MSID drainage system, which has multiple outfalls to the Caloosahatchee.

"During a larger storm, we would be able to divert water flow to either of these major basins and recharge aquifers in areas for those people on wells. But probably the biggest advantage is that it can protect the Caloosahatchee. We can work to hold back some of that fresh water during the rainy summer season and the nitrogen and phosphorus run-offs from getting into our area," said Lindsay.

Section 10, a 447-acre parcel which sits upstream of the district-owned Greenbriar Swamp, is situated between two of Lehigh Acres MSID's major basins. When completed, the GS-10 project is estimated to provide an additional 1,500 -2,000 acre-feet per year of stormwater storage, which will reduce fresh water discharges to the estuary during the wet season.

According to Lindsay, the parcel purchase is the first step. The district must now wait up to 90 days for Lee County, which just approved the purchase last Tuesday, to submit a mutual agreement, so that the district can build and maintain their project on that parcel.

"Lee County will own the land but it will be under the maintenance of LA-MSID for stormwater drainage and flood control and park features," said Lindsay. "The project plans also include a lot of water quality features where the plants will work to clean up the stormwater."

Now that the purchase was approved by the county, the next step for the municipal district is to find funding for the project.

"We are already working on an application for state appropriations to use towards the project's design. The application will be presented during the next legislative session. We should know by May 2019 if we will receive the funding," Lindsay said.

Lee Board of County Commissioners also concluded its discussions with Kitson & Partners concerning the prospective purchase of 1,519 acres of property at Babcock Ranch.

County staff explored the possibility of acquiring the land, which is adjacent to the Telegraph Creek and Bob Janes Preserves and had been nominated for Conservation 20/20.

In closing Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais stated that while the county did not find a deal structure that improved upon the win-win scenario already in place with Syd Kitson and his team, Babcock Ranch area residents will benefit from the conceptual development plan proposed by Kitson & Partners.

Other Conservation 20/20 actions by the BOCC include:

Commissioners authorized commencement of acquisition activities for three parcels totaling 800 acres for Conservation 20/20 at the regularly scheduled Board meeting Tuesday.

The Board of County Commissioners recently has authorized pursuit of 18 active Conservation 20/20 projects.

For more information on Board of County Commissioners or upcoming meetings and projects, visit www.leegov.com/bocc/meetings. For more information about Conservation 20/20, visit www.conservation2020.org.

 
 

 

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