“Preserve the land along the Estero River!”
“We don’t want a cinder block on every parcel of land in the Village!”
These are among the most often voiced comments made by residents during community workshops and Village Council meetings. Acting upon these sentiments, the Village of Estero is considering an opportunity to purchase a large parcel of land at the northeast corner of Corkscrew Road and U.S. 41. The property extends from Corkscrew Road north to the Estero United Methodist Church along U.S. 41 and east to the railroad tracks.
Most of this property was originally part of the Koreshan Settlement in Estero in the early 1900s. Much of the land was cleared and planted with citrus groves, which were situated alongside the Estero River to take advantage of shipping down the river to the Gulf.
Prior to the Village’s incorporation, this property was rezoned by Lee County from agricultural to commercial, residential and mixed use. The Village has been in discussions with the current landowner for many months to determine how the most environmentally sensitive portions of the property may be preserved. Initially, the Village sought to purchase a portion of the property. Unfortunately, all options were unworkable.
The Village Council is now considering the purchase of 62 acres of this property to protect the river, maintain/improve public access to the river, and preserve the many heritage trees on the property. The long-term vision is to connect this land with Koreshan State Park in order to provide up to 330 acres of contiguous green space for Estero residents to enjoy.
The Trust for Public Land, a 501(c)(3) organization which helps complete land purchases for governments, is serving as the broker for this transaction. The Village would pay approximately $26 million, including the land and associated real estate fees to secure this property. To do so, the Village would assume long term debt for up to 30 years. However, given the Village’s strong financial position, the Village may make additional prepayments in order to pay off the loan — possibly in as early as seven years. To further mitigate this cost, selected parcels which are not as ecologically significant may be sold for development. This will not impact river access and will allow preservation of heritage trees. Additionally, this purchase will not draw down reserves or compromise the Village’s ability to respond to natural disasters.
The Village is welcoming community input on this proposed land purchase. The Village has conducted two appraisals on this property and is thoughtfully planning for its future value to residents. This riverfront land may be turned over to the Village by the end of 2018, ensuring open green space and public access to the Estero River for Estero residents to enjoy for generations to come.
Contact the Village
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