2017-02-15 / Outdoors

Support is needed for four Southwest Florida outdoor projects

The new federal administration’s priorities are a problem for those involved in vulnerable road-user safety, increased access for non-motorists and Complete Streets. Even before this troubling transition took place, four important Southwest Florida projects were put at-risk because of local actions.

River of Grass Greenway

The River of Grass Greenway (evergladesrogg.org) is a proposed non-motorized transportation and recreation corridor across the Everglades connecting eastern Collier County and southwestern Miami-Dade. It’s already had some significant funding for studies and planning as well as for construction of some segments on either end. ROGG is part of the SUNTrail, a network that ultimately links Lee County and all of Florida’s southwest coast to the southeast coast.

While there are plenty of supporters there are also detractors, including, improbably, some in the environmental advocacy community. There is also concern among Native Americans, whose land it will pass through.


The east and south sides of the Fort Myers Country Club golf course could provide space for a multi-use path. 
DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY The east and south sides of the Fort Myers Country Club golf course could provide space for a multi-use path. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY When one considers the types of businesses and uses existing along that section of U.S. 41 (airboat rides and souvenir shops) ROGG represents much less impact and has more significance.

At this time the Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization is considering a resolution to rescind its support of the project. All three of the MPO’s advisory committees — citizen, technical and bike/ped — have recommended against the resolution. The Miami-Dade MPO also remains behind continuing to study and plan ROGG. Collier’s elected officials who serve on the MPO need to take their advisory committees’ advice and reject this shortsighted resolution.

South Cape greenspace

A less ambitious undertaking but just as important in its own way is the fate of the former Cape Coral Golf Club property in South Cape. At 178 acres, it’s by far the largest greenspace in the city’s most established part of town. It’s privately owned and is currently slated to become a national homebuilder’s latest residential project unless the city steps in and purchases the property. An organization called Save Our Recreation (saveourrecreation.us) has been established to advocate for keeping this green gem a place the public can use for generations to come.

Able Canal Trail

In Lehigh Acres, a part of Lee County that’s notoriously underserved in terms of bike/ped accommodation, a 5.5-mile shared-use pathway is proposed to run along the north side of Able Canal. Besides serving as a recreation opportunity, it would provide a critical connection between nearby residential areas and parks. Among amenities being considered are way-finding signage, information kiosks, boardwalks and pedestrian bridges, making it a park in itself.

But, alas, a few NIMBY’s (not-in-my-backyard folks) have made their opposition known.

See swflroads.com/ablecanalpathway.

Old Fort Myers

Finally, the city of Fort Myers has yet another opportunity to enhance its bike/ped environment in a long established part of town by utilizing public property to build a trail along the Winkler Canal. The trail would link Cleveland Avenue and points east to McGregor Boulevard and its neighborhoods. But significant opposition from those who live along the canal has become apparent, so Plan B may be a better option. Utilizing the southern and eastern edges of the Fort Myers Country Club to serve the same east-west connection and could also provide a proper north-south link between neighborhoods on either side of the golf course. Some of those opposed to the Winkler Canal trail have expressed interest in working with the city and advocates on alternatives, including Plan-B.

See BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee.blogspot.org) for lots more on these projects. ¦

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