FGCU Finalizes Purchase of Bonita Springs Property for Science Field Lab
FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University today finalized an agreement with Norm and Nancy Vester to purchase a waterside property in Estero Bay that will establish a field station for FGCU's marine science, biological science and environmental science programs.
The property, known as the Bonita Beach Plantation Resort, is located at 5164 Bonita Beach Road on Little Hickory Island along Fish Trap Bay. The property is .547 acres landward and .308 acres seaward, and is surrounded by water on three sides.
The property consists of a main residence, an eight-unit apartment building and another building with four apartments, all totaling nearly 10,000 square feet of space. The site also includes 10 boat slips. FGCU plans to use the apartments to house visiting scientists.
The Vesters sold the property to the FGCU Foundation, the fundraising arm of the University, for $2.75 million, $1 million less than the appraised value of $3.75 to $3.9 million. The Vesters said their decision to work with FGCU is based upon their experiences with FGCU students and faculty, and their concern for their community.
"We wanted to donate something the University could use and that would benefit the community," the Vesters said. "Our resort is such a beautifully, ecological place and we know the University will be good stewards as students learn and conduct research that will help improve the environment. The FGCU staff we met are excellent professionals. The University will make good neighbors."
The Vester field station is in addition to FGCU's current partnership with the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which was established in 2003.
The Estero Bay property will provide hands-on field experiences for students, faculty and research staff to study a range of marine and estuarine habitats using specialized equipment and instrumentation.
FGCU agreed to purchase the site for its remarkable education benefits to students, scope of research opportunities, proximity to FGCU, accessibility, and existing boat slips.
College of Arts and Science Dean Donna Henry said the property is ideal for a field station to accommodate several science programs because of its access to the water. "I appreciate the vision of Norm and Nancy Vester to provide the university with a property that will advance both our research and academic programs in marine and ecological sciences," Henry said.
"The Marine and Environmental Field Station will provide FGCU immediate access to a saltwater environment and to the Bay and Gulf waters. An important advantage is that the property is located just a 20-25 minute drive from the main campus.
"The property makes sea water readily available for the restoration project," FGCU Associate Professor of Marine Science Aswani Volety said. "Preparations to utilize the newly acquired facility are underway and by fall, the field station will host full program activity." Volety has four federal grants that support oyster reef restoration.
For more information, contact Vice President for University Advancement Steve Magiera at (239) 590-1064.
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