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Chiquita Boulevard road widening plan gets mixed reception

By Staff | Jan 12, 2010

The Chiquita Boulevard road widening project is still more than a half decade away from beginning construction, but that fact does little to ease the mind of David Azeredo.
His home, which sits catty corner from Coral Ridge Cemetery on Chiquita, will be torn down in favor of a drainage pond once construction does begin.
“I knew nothing about this when I bought here,” he said. “It’s a beautiful home – I liked the size of the lot, it was a nice location, the neighborhood seemed great. It just seemed like a nice, quiet place for us to live.”
Azeredo was one of many who turned out to a city sponsored open house for the project, which, at this point, does not have a definitive start date.
City Transportation Director Steve Neff said that pond sites could change, depending on whether property owners along Chiquita decide to sell their lots to the city.
He also said the area where Azeredo’s home is located is one of the more difficult sections of the project, because of the his close proximity to the cemetery, and the lack of rights of way.
Neff stressed that the project is still far away, and expressed understanding of people’s concerns, especially Azeredo’s.
“Right now, this is not in our six-year capitol improvement project plans,” Neff said.
The project is divided into two phases, the first phase being from Pine Island Road south to Veteran’s Parkway. The second phase would run from Veteran’s to Cape Coral Parkway.
The design phase of the project isn’t even expected to be complete until 2011, at a price that’s still unknown.
Harry Doden, who bought his house off Chiquita just over a year ago, said he understands the need for the project but doesn’t think the city’s plan is solid.
He said building a six-lane road that connects to Veterans and Pine Island – which are two lane in some sections – doesn’t make sense.
“I’m just having a hard time understanding it all,” Doden said. “I know it will be needed someday, just not now.”
Council members Kevin McGrail, Bill Deile and Pete Brandt all were on hand to take a look at the project and listen to people’s concerns.
McGrail said he came out just to make sure people understood the scope of the project, echoing some of Steve Neff’s comments, saying that the city has no money to pay for the project now.
Nevertheless, he said it is important to communicate that the project is coming, someday.
“This lets people know about the long-range plans,” he said. “It lets them know this is not a possibility, but a probability.”
It was not a surprise for Azeredo, who said he received a letter from a law firm over a year ago informing him that he would lose his home.
While he stands to make money off being kicked out, he worries that he won’t be paid fair market value for the place he’s called home for four years.
Even more than that, he worries that the city doesn’t care about his problems, that his voice will be lost amid the mad rumblings of bulldozers that, one day, will come to knock his home to the ground.
“This is just like the UEP,” Azeredo said, referring to the utilities expansion project. “It’s the same deal. Our opinions don’t count. They’re going to do what they want to do.”