Village Council Secures Recreational Land in Response to Demand


By Cheryl Mandell


Phase 1 is starting for Estero on River

Phase 1 is starting for Estero on River

The Village of Estero is celebrating its 10th year as a Florida municipality, and this milestone seems a perfect time to highlight some of the village’s recent successes in acquiring recreational space for current and future generations to enjoy.

From the Village Council’s formation, the goal has been to provide administrative leadership to carry out the will of Estero’s citizens. The village solicited residents’ input toward developing its master plan.

“So, you’re listening to the people first, and the people’s opinions are driving the process, not a politician’s,” said Village Manager Steve Sarkozy.

Focus groups conducted by the village uncovered a great desire for recreation in Estero. The need for more entertainment and recreational opportunities was among the top three concerns of residents.

Over the last 10 years since the village’s incorporation in 2014, the community has experienced rapid development. Very few parcels of notable size have been available for purchase without a huge price tag.

At its Jan. 24, 2024, meeting, Village Council unanimously approved some big advances in recreation and land preservation through agreements with the Lee County School District. One agreement involved a major purchase of nearly 70 acres on Three Oaks Parkway, which will be used to mitigate flooding and stormwater issues. This property, located about 1,550 feet northeast from the intersection of Three Oaks Parkway and Corkscrew Road, was once proposed to be a K-8 school.

Proposed layout for joint park and recreation center at Estero High School.

Proposed layout for joint park and recreation center at Estero High School.

Residents in nearby communities, such as Copper Oaks, The Villages at Country Creek and Villagio, are pleased with this development, as flooding from recent storms has greatly impacted their roads and neighborhoods.


Entertainment Finds a Home in Estero

Other agreements pose an exciting future for residents of all ages, answering the call for more sports and recreation opportunities.

In a shared-use agreement, the Lee County School District will lease 52 acres of land next to Estero High School to the village for just $10 a year for 99 years. This proposal offers numerous community and school recreational opportunities through a joint-use park and recreation center. During school hours, the recreational fields will be used for student athletics, and during non-school hours and weekends, they will be open to community residents.

Basketball courts, soccer fields, a baseball field, pickleball courts and walking trails will connect to the Village’s neighboring entertainment district at Williams Road and Via Coconut Point. If the village’s recent beautification of Estero Parkway is any indication, the landscaping and maintenance of these recreational facilities will exceed expectations.

The vision for this space includes offering youth sports and afterschool programs when the fields and courts are not in use by Estero High students. The new facilities also will improve interscholastic athletic experiences for Estero students through the increased amenities.

Foosball ping pong and other indoor rec options

Foosball ping pong and other indoor rec options

The village agreed to invest $10 million in the 52 acres over a five-year period and maintain the facilities. The first capital improvement will be to replace the high school’s football field with Astroturf, then upgrade basketball and tennis courts. Village Council will be involved in all phases of development, and residents will have input as well.

“The football field we would do this summer, so that the field will be available for the high school football season,” said Sarkozy.

Pickleball courts are also on the project’s agenda, adding to the much-anticipated 20-acre Family Entertainment Center being built on the north side of Williams Road, east of Via Coconut near the high school. The two major entities within this complex are nationwide pickleball chain Chicken N Pickle and High 5, a Texas-based family entertainment venue that hosts an array of exciting games and activities.

This public-private partnership is a direct response to the community’s desire for more family-friendly recreation. The financial return to the community is estimated at over $1 million annually, with a targeted opening date of early 2025.


More Projects on the Horizon

Also approved at the Jan. 24 meeting was a contract with CW Engineering, Inc. to provide construction engineering and inspection services for Phase 1 of Estero on the River, located north of Corkscrew Road between U.S. 41 and the Seminole Gulf Railway. This first phase incudes a pedestrian path and bridge over the Estero River, a parking area on the north side of the river, restrooms and landscaping.

Council also approved a contract with HighSpans Engineering for bike and pedestrian improvements along Sandy Lane between Corkscrew Road and Broadway Avenue East. The improvements include a bicycle path along the east side of Sandy Lane, pedestrian bridge over the Estero River, street lighting, landscaping and irrigation. The village’s consultant is nearing completion of the project’s design and permitting.

A healthy combination of residential and commercial growth, paired with green space and preservation efforts, are an ideal foundation for an evolving community. Estero Village Council continues to make many efforts to maintain the right balance, evidenced in these recent agreements. The council’s commitment to creating recreational spaces, parks and stormwater mitigation illustrates that growth is not the whole goal. Citizen enjoyment matters.

High 5 bar area

High 5 bar area


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