When proposal were made two years ago to the full conservation 20/20 committee to acquire the sinkhole in Lehigh Acres
, it had rejected this proposal. Yet the same answer was given by the committee when another presentation was made regarding the sinkhole for this year.
The sinkhole, known as the Lehigh Spring, is a 200 feet deep and have been around for 2.5 million years. Locals call it the bottomless lake or Leeland lake.
Experts from the different fields of anthropology, archaeology, ecology, hydrology and other fields have trooped to the committee hearing on the purchase of the sinkhole or prevent constructions from being built near the lake and causing further contamination that could alter any historical data found in the site.
This is the second proposal that the committee received to buy the sinkhole and it has reached a secondary review this summer. The committee members even made an ocular inspection of the 19-acre property. Yet the proposal was trimmed down to 16 acres because of the owners request to add the right of way.
After the committee voted which led to a 5-5 tie, the committee chairwoman had to make the tough call not to go through with the acquisition. Ms. Carie Call, the committee chairwoman, had difficulty in making the call.
Ms. Call feels that the sinkhole is an important part of Lehigh Acres and how the community supports its development but the property still has no right of way and would require full drainage and cleaning with the use of taxpayers’ money.
Despite the committee’s vote, Ms. Call is still optimistic that the property would still enjoy protection under the Lee County Lands and the County Parks and Recreation department.
In a presentation made by Mr. Lee Werst, a hydrologist and ground supervisor from the Lee County Natural Resources have noted the importance of preserving this body of water. It is an important link to the aquifer system in the sinkhole. The specialist also added that it has not received the protection it needs.
Based on some committee member’s decision, due to the sinkhole’s proximity to a gas station and car could further contaminate its waters. As per Mr. Werts suggestion, the acquisition of the property could prevent further contamination of the sinkhole.
The current owner of the property, Mr. Ken O’Leary, had indicated that no one knew the body of water a couple of years ago and the importance of conserving this sinkhole.