FGCU Civil Engineering Students Reveal Redesign for Ponce de Leon Park

On Friday, Florida Gulf Coast University students showed off their redesign of Ponce de Leon Park. Their goal was to include the Peace River Wildlife Center.

"The news that there's a viable option for the center to remain in Ponce Park has allowed us to feel hopeful for the first time since we found out our home in Ponce Park was in jeopardy," said Pat Campagna, board president of the wildlife center.

The wildlife center is currently on land owned by Grande Harbor, LLC.  The odd situation was discovered when the property developer requested a variance in 2005.  The variance request found almost all of the wildlife center sits on Grande Harbor property.

Board members say moving Peace River Wildlife will take at least $500,000.

"It will take us some time to raise that money.  That's why we need to know we have a home," said Campagna.

Staff volunteers say the Ponce de Leon Park location is key to attracting visitors.

"Please take that to the people who are going to make a decision.  This is not just about buildings.  This is not just about money.  It's about the beauty of things that live here in Punta Gorda [and] the number one tourist attraction," said Penny Nelson, a wildlife rescuer.

The group of engineering students will make their final design pitch later this month at FGCU.  It's an overall design pitch that could cost more than $1 million.

Source Article: NBC-2 News Reporter, Chris Gilmore

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