Bunche Beach opens Outdoor Activity Center
Lee County Parks & Recreation’s improvements project at Bunche Beach Preserve –including a new Outdoor Activity Center– received some high praise at an official ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday. The ceremony featured many county officials, certificate presentations and a plaque unveiling in honor of DJ “Petro” Petruccelli.
Master of Ceremony Tammy Hall, who is the Lee County Board of County Commissioners chairperson, and fellow Commissioner Ray Judah were among a group of officials including Lee County Tourist Development Council Vice Chair and Beach resident Roxie Smith, Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee member and former Cape council member Alex LePera and Lee Parks Director Barbara Manzo.
“If it wasn’t for this incredible community which really cares deeply about its environment, we wouldn’t have these kind of assets here today,” said Judah.
The 719-acre preserve of Bunche Beach is designed for resource-based recreational use featuring the Outdoor Activity Center and outer property, which boasts two kayak/canoe launches, two wildlife viewing/fishing piers and 310 feet of boardwalk and composting rest rooms. There is no running water at the facility and all electric needs will be provided through solar power.
“Today, what we have here, started with a half acre of property,” said Smith. “I’ve always referred to (Bunche Beach) as Lee County’s best-kept secret. We are very fortunate to have the Tourist Development Council (bed tax) funding source.”
The half acre site was acquired by Lee County in 1949. A year later, a dedication ceremony was held in honor of Dr. Ralph Bunche (1904-1971), a famous African American who was a mediator for the United Nations and later became the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He received the honorable prize 60 years ago for his work as the head of the United Nations Palestine Commission while negotiating a peaceful cease fire between the Israelis and Arab nations.
“What we’ve done here is very special and beautiful,” said Manzo. “In keeping with this Conservation 20/20 preservation mixed with county purchased land, we’ve done a real green effort at this place.”
The $1.4 million Bunche Beach improvements project involves recycled material for the boardwalk and piers, storm water run-off contained in an underground system and retention pools, use of native plants, construction of the composting rest rooms, rainwater cistern collection system and solar power for the energy source. There is parking available at the center (a quarter mile north of the beach) and angular, lined parking closer to the beach.
The project was funded by grants from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection through the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program, Florida Communities Trust, the Lee TDC Beach and Shoreline Fund and development fees from Lee Parks.
Petruccelli, who passed away in mid-May, was honored for his 25 years as a member of the Lee County Parks and Recreation Services Advisory Committee. His wife, Marianne, helped Commissioner Hall in the unveiling of the plaque, which will be hung on the ‘sunset balcony’ of the center.
“He enjoyed every minute he was on this committee,” said Marianne Petruccelli.