Leesburg Businesses and Residents Help Monkey Island

Local businesses and community members are joining with the City of Leesburg to improve one of Venetian Gardens’ most scenic and unique recreation spots.

Monkey Island is less than an acre of secluded land peaking up from the water surface of Lake Harris at the mouth of the Venetian Cove. It includes a covered picnic area with an incomparable view of the surrounding cove and 65-acres of beautifully landscaped Venetian Gardens park.

Now the tiny island looks better than ever with generous support from area businesses and volunteers. Cutrale Citrus Juices USA is funding regularly scheduled efforts to minimize tall aquatic plants that once crowded the island’s shorelines.

“We at Cutrale are glad to work with the city and support our local community,” said Cutrale general manager Jose Zamperlini. “The beautification of Monkey Island is a real benefit for everyone.”

The Leesburg Boat Club also contributed funding to help control some of the overgrown plants on the island. Local residents have volunteered with the cleanup.

Ro-mac Lumber and Supply provided wood for the city to rebuild two picnic tables and a bench – another significant improvement for guests of the island. “We've been in Leesburg since 1947; we are very invested in the city's future. We are happy to do what we can to help make Leesburg a better place,” said Ro-mac Vice President and CFO Dan Robuck, III.

Work at Monkey Island is part of large-scale improvements for all of Venetian Gardens coordinated with businesses and residents. Leesburg City Commissioner Jay Hurley has led efforts to reach out to the community for support: “We have community leaders and businesses taking an active role in improving Leesburg and making it more beautiful. Venetian Gardens is the jewel of the city, and I think this will lead to other partnerships for other locations around Leesburg.”

In March, Commissioner Hurley organized a large public cleanup with teams of corporate and civic volunteers to trim trees, remove brush and debris from the park. Leesburg staff complemented that effort with other cleanups. 
Leesburg rebuilt six wooden bridges connecting the 65-acre Venetian Garden’s tranquil islands.

The $339,000 construction project wrapped up nearly three months ahead of schedule. Leesburg also removed overgrown and invasive aquatic plants from the shoreline surrounding Venetian Cove.

The city recently finished numerous improvements to the Leesburg Community Building at Venetian Gardens. Updates included a new roof, sections of new exterior façade, new interior and exterior paint as well as new carpet, cabinets and audio/visual equipment. New sidewalks surround the Community Building and the adjacent Venetian Gardens Pool.

Venetian Gardens – originally created in the 1930s - is located at 201 E. Dixie Ave. along the north shore of Lake Harris. The historic park features tranquil, meandering canals surrounding six islands, Pat Thomas Stadium, the Leesburg Community Center, the Leesburg Boat Club, Venetian Cove Marina and Ski Beach.

Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday. For more information, visit www.leesburgflorida.gov.