The bridge under construction over the Cocohatchee Canal on the north side of Immokalee Road, left, will be the sole access to a two-story charter school planned on Golden Gate Estates property just east of TwinEagles Golf & Country Club. (Photo: Tim Aten/Naples Daily News)
The new tuition-free public school plans to launch with 661 seats for children in kindergarten through sixth grade and is anticipated to add seventh and eighth grades and have 1,145 students by its fifth year, said Colleen Reynolds, a spokeswoman for Collier Charter Academy. Open enrollment for next fall starts Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 1.
Construction is expected to start in November on Collier Charter Academy, a new charter school planned to open in the fall on Immokalee Road in Golden Gate Estates. (Photo: Charter Schools USA)
“Beginning November, parents can guarantee their place in the lottery for open seats. We are anticipating heavy demand for this school, so we encourage parents to apply early,” according to information on the school’s website, www.colliercharter.org.
The local school was initially targeted to open this fall, but after complaints from Estates residents, the school was delayed a year so that construction vehicles could use the new bridge to access the property rather than traveling more than a mile through the residential area from Wilson Boulevard to 25th Avenue Northwest to Eighth Street Northwest.
“The charter school developers agreed to delay their project ultimately after a lot of discussion and encouragement on my part to be kind to the community and to respect the residents that are adjacent to the school, and they agreed to do that,” said Collier County Commissioner Tim Nance, whose district encompasses the Estates.
Of course, while minimizing construction traffic for the more than 67,000-square-foot school building planned at 12101 Immokalee Road, the delay didn’t stop a dump truck parade through the neighborhood this fall for the bridge construction. The five-lane bridge is expected to be completed next month, Reynolds said.
“Mid-November is the scheduled completion, probably a little earlier,” she said.
In mid-September, two parcels of vacant residential land totaling more than 13 acres along 25th Avenue Northwest were purchased by Red Apple at Collier LLC. Red Apple Development is a national developer of charter schools. The overgrown property is etched with dirt trails used by all-terrain vehicles for more than two decades.
Clearing of the land for construction of the charter school building is expected to start in November after the bridge is completed. The building will be erected by Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies using tilt-up construction, a time-saving method that will raise huge concrete panels into position to form the school’s exterior walls, Reynolds said.
“They are beautiful buildings,” she said.
In addition to the school building planned near the southeast corner of the property, the project includes an outdoor basketball court, a tot lot and a soccer field. The front of the school will face east, and a covered drive on the building’s southern side will allow for the drop-off and pickup of students.
Construction is expected to start in November on Collier Charter Academy, a new charter school planned to open in the fall on Immokalee Road in Golden Gate Estates. (Photo:Charter Schools USA)
At least a quarter of the acreage will remain as a wetland preserve on the northwest corner of the property, and a 1.5-acre pond will fill the southwest corner, site plans show.
Immokalee Road’s current speed limit will be maintained for the section in front of the school, but a traffic signal is planned there, about a mile west of the traffic light at Wilson Boulevard and Immokalee Road.
“Our Traffic Operations Chief Engineer Anthony Khawaja has advised that the Collier Charter Academy is required to open the median, install dual eastbound left turns and a fully actuated traffic signal,” said Connie Deane, community liaison for the Collier County Growth Management Department.
A cut in the median will be made on Immokalee Road in line with the school’s bridge, the site plan shows. The median just west of the new bridge will be narrowed to add two left-turn lanes for eastbound traffic. A single right-turn lane will be added on right-of-way property just east of the bridge for westbound traffic accessing the school, plans show.
Charter Schools USA operates 84 charter schools serving more than 75,000 students in seven states, including 42 charter schools in Florida, Reynolds said.