Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Landscaping transforms Alliance for the Arts

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, March 25, 2020

Looking south toward Royal Palm Square Boulevard at the Alliance for the Arts.

What was always an active and aesthetically appealing corner property but lacking an important feature is finally becoming the complete package. Appropriately located along McGregor Boulevard at Alliance for the Arts, a sidewalk and landscaping project is transforming what would otherwise be common 5-feet wide ribbons of concrete into a functional and beautiful piece of outdoor art.

While this project may not be the only example of infrastructure as public art — nearby and adjacent to the Midpoint Bridge overpass is a military display built into the infrastructure that’s also quite inviting — it has special significance for me. The reason I’m so pleased to see the Alliance project is as much about the basic sidewalk as the creativity that makes it special.

From the beginning of my involvement in bike/pedestrian advocacy many decades ago, the two missing pieces of infrastructure that were most important to me were Gladiolus Drive around Lakes Park, and McGregor Boulevard. Gladiolus has had a pathway on one side between Summerlin and U.S. 41 since it was widened well over a decade ago but there remained this one last section of McGregor lacking a sidepath in front of the Alliance until very recently.

The view looking north along McGregor at the Alliance for the Arts.

I used to live on the corner of Gladiolus and what was then the southern terminus of Summerlin. My concern began as self-serving because I had just jumped headfirst into the running craze and was looking for places to run, especially from my front door. Summerlin had a pathway but there was no shade (which is still the case). The newly opened Lakes Park was a perfect place and less than a mile away but getting to the entrance was almost impossible because the only (official) access point at that time was on Gladiolus. It was then a treacherous two-lane road with no side path, or even shoulders, and a killer curve to boot. That particular situation led me into the local bike/pedestrian advocacy world. Eventually the county widened all of Gladiolus and included bike/ped accommodations. Lakes Park added what was intended to be a temporary non-motorized access along Summerlin while road construction was taking place but that has since become a very popular permanent access for pedestrians and cyclists. No such luck in getting the sidepath on McGregor at the corner of Colonial, even as roadway improvements took place more than once around Alliance for the Arts.

Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian
advocate and traffic safety professional
who cycles, runs and walks regularly for
transportation, recreation and  fitness.
Contact him at
and 239-334-6417.
The Alliance property was previously the Schultz Farm and the area was originally known as Toad Town. The Schultz farmhouse and property was donated to Lee County in 1976 for use as a cultural center. Over the years the open space on the corner of McGregor and Royal Palm Square has been the site of many field sports, concerts, festivals, summer camps and other activities. A permanent open air stage gets regular use and the very property is home to the weekly GreenMarket. A couple of large sculptures have graced the area for some time and they are now integrated into the landscape project.

To learn about this topic and more, visit and

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group ( The Florida Bicycle Association ( is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.