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Future of Nalle Grade Park in North Fort Myers on the table

By Staff | Apr 7, 2015

North Fort Myers residents had an opportunity to see what the future of Nalle Grade Park is in relations to its water quality and its possible increased usage.

About three dozen people attended a March 26 meeting at the rec center regarding a concept to not only improve the water quality there, but also perhaps make the park, which is often flooded, more usable.

Anura Karuna-Muni, Public Works Operations Manager for the Lee County Division of Natural Resources, said it was the public’s first opportunity to see the plan.

“People got to see the concept and we wanted to share that with the people,” Karuna-Muni said.

Among the subjects discussed at the meeting were the location and size of the site; its status and the public input received; the hydrology of Bayshore Creek and the influence from Charlotte County; the goals and objectives of what the water quality improvements would provide and what’s next.

People also got to ask questions and break into groups to view the plans and discuss the project with county staff and design team members.

Nalle Grade Park is county owned land, but besides its use by the Lee County Archers, much of the park is unused and/or unusable, Karuna-Muni said.

“It’s a park, but it’s rarely used. So this will hopefully help the park element and the water quality element recommended by the state,” Karuna-Muni said. “We want the water coming in from Charlotte County and Bayshore Creek to be cleaner when it leaves the park.”

In a meeting in October 2013, plans were put into motion to create a concept to build a facility within the Bayshore Creek watershed, which is approximately 3.1 square miles in Lee County and 12 square miles in Charlotte County.

The intent of the concept is to decrease the nutrients/ pollutants (specifically nitrogen) discharged into the Caloosahatchee River by a dry retention cell, with additional treatment provided by using additional wetland and increasing site storage, improve drainage by adding additional culverts which drain the northern swale of Nalle Grade Road to the park and Bayshore Creek, and provide additional treatment along the park frontage with linear filter marsh strip, which will further move water away and filter storm water.

As for the park itself, the hope is to keep the existing shelter and open space areas for recreation use; keep the archery club, as they have been good stewards of the land; add a paved access road and parking; increase the park’s visibility from Nalle Grade Road; provide open water areas for fishing and walking trails along the berms.

Bayshore Creek watershed is considered an impaired water body, and the drainage basin that originates within Charlotte County contributes heavily to the problems within Bayshore Creek watershed in Lee County.

The drainage within this part of the county is complex. Bayshore Creek drainage interacts with Popash Creek drainage depending on water levels and rainfall.

The budget for completing the project is estimated to be $4 million. Karuna-Muni said permitting will take between 12 and 18 months, with construction not set to start for another two years.

The master plan can be found under the surface water section on natural resources web site at www.lee-county.com/gov/ dept/ NaturalResources/Surface-Water/Pages/WatershedTopics.aspx