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Council OKs funding, concept of Yacht Club

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Oct 6, 2020

The Yacht Club Plan, as modified.

Plans for a $36.5 million upgrade to the Yacht Club park moved forward Monday when Cape Coral City Council approved a modified concept plan and agreed to hire a consulting firm to finalize the proposal.

Council approved the plan 7-1 margin despite the slightly higher price tag needed to make the changes.

Council also approved an amendment to the contract with the consulting firm to develop the construction documents for the final concept.

One of the major changes – one that had nearby residents most concerned – was to move the boat ramp from inside the canal to the basin. Others included fencing around the area as a way to keep people and noise out of the neighborhood, lighting and landscaping changes and the use of artificial surfaces along the waterways to eliminate the need for fertilizer.

Senior Public Works Director Mike Ilczyczyn and James Mason at Kimley Horn, the consulting firm on the project, laid out the plan as modified since Council’s last discussion.

Plan as previously considered.

The cost would be around $36.5 million for the entire project — up from the $34.3 million original cost — with $14 million to be funded using GO Bond revenue approved by voters for the city’s $60 million Parks Master Plan. The remainder will be funded through revenue bonds to be paid back through money generated by the Yacht Basin.

That money would come from the lease of the 118 boating slips as well as a $2 per hour fee for parking at the Yacht Club, which combined could produce as much as $6 million annually.

Council members expressed concerns, but generally liked the project.

Councilmember Rick Williams concern was charging $2 per hour to park.

“That could get expensive, especially if you have a boat. I don’t know about trying to jam a community park into a business, but as long as the boat ramp is in the basin, I can support it,” Williams said.

Councilmember Jennifer Nelson like the artificial turf, but was concerned with the additional costs and return on investment. Still, she was on board, as was Councilmember Marilyn Stout, though she was against any kind of fencing.

Only Councilmember Jessica Cosden dissented, saying that while she loved the plan, she didn’t want to “marry herself” to $2 for parking and the $2.3 million cost to move the boat ramp.

What everyone on council agreed with was that the neighbors needed to be a part of the process. Nearly the entire hour of citizens input was devoted to concerns about the renovations.

“Communication with the residents needs to go along with this. We need to be a good neighbor,” Mayor Joe Coviello said.

Stephony Halper said there were good points made on several subjects, especially on the boat ramps, but she felt the decision had already been made.

“I feel that when we have our chance at participation, I think sometimes everything has been decided. I only heard one council member speak in approval of the fence, one speak against it, and that was it,” Halper said. “I also think there should be an environmental study.”

Joe Mazurkiewicz, who spoke for the residents at Redfish Point, said the HOA would be happy.

The council recognized the historic character of the neighborhood and we believe they will make the changes requested. I think the HOA will be very happy with this,” Mazurkiewicz said.