Monday, August 06, 2007

LaBelle Set For New Park?

Paul Puletti Leading The Way For New Recreational Park

LABELLE, FL. -- The city of LaBelle has set its sights on the possibility of a new park. The city entered a lease with the South Florida Water Management district for hundreds of acres on the north side of the Caloosahatchee River, just east of the LaBelle bridge. This lease was issued April 30, 1991 and pretty much forgotten by city officials until this year. 

In April, Rhonda Haag and Fred Davis (formerly of SFWMD)  came to the LaBelle City Commission meeting to terminate the lease because the city had  not developed a park on the site, that was required under the terms of the 1991 lease.  The City was given a year extension. If the City didn't provide SFWMD with a plan, then the lease could be terminated.
There is a coalition of groups with interest in preserving the area as public land on the Caloosahatchee, as it remains one of the few undeveloped areas along the river. The east side of the land adjoins the Riverbend subdivision while the western end meets the Belle Hatchee Marina. A strip along the river is for Corps of Engineers access.
The City has purchased an easement for the private road leading to the entrance to the land, and at the July City Commission meeting city attorney Owen Luckey mentioned that it would take at least 90 days to complete the legal work for the easements to allow access to the property.  The city commission will take up the issue again at its August 14 meeting with Paul Puletti leading the movement to save the land for LaBelle residents' recreational use.

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