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Yacht Club redo plan continues to make waves

By CHUCK BALLARO - | May 26, 2022

Cape Coral City Council continues to catch flack from residents near the Yacht Club regarding the impending two-year closure of the historic destination for a complete renovation.

City staff didn’t seem to have all the answers Wednesday when it came to when work would start at parks included in the city’s bond-funded $60 million master plan and what the final price tag would be.

Nor did they have all the information concerning the Yacht Club renovation, which city officials have said could cost another $60 million.

“We still have several of our larger parks we have not completed design on and have not received our permits,” City Manager Rob Hernandez said at the council workshop. “It’s hard to tell today what the final cost will be to fill out those parks associated with the GO Bond.”

Council has set aside funding in city reserves to cover cost overruns in the bond. Council also instructed city staff to create a financing plan that would separate the Yacht Club from the GO Bond that first was intended to include upgrades to the facility.

Staff proposed taking the $10.9 million from the GO Bond earmarked for the Yacht Club and put it back in the bond for other parks within the plan. The city now intends to finance the Yacht Club improvements through revenue bonds with a possible $60 million issuance on the table. That is still in play, Hernandez said.

The cost projection currently is at $43 million for the known elements in the project, Hernandez said, but added they are looking at the ballroom, which also is up for a facelift but is not funded.

“We know we have to replace the roof, the windows, the electric and HVAC issues. Our goal is to address all of that while the Yacht Club is closed,” Hernandez said. “Every inch is going to be under some kind of construction with the exception of the Boat House. For safety reasons we’re going to keep it closed.”

Citizens input featured protests by residents about the impending parking garage component and the need for a full closure of the Yacht Club. They also want another meeting about the facility for input.

They were told there has been ample opportunity already.

“The basis of all of these projects comes from the Master Plan, which had thousands of hours, dozens of meetings and lots of input coming from many aspects,” Public Works Director Mike Ilczyszyn said. “There were numerous public outreach meetings held where we gathered input. They met with individuals and held focus groups, mailed out surveys and had online surveys.”

Ilczyszyn said that while he hears and understands what people are saying, some comments are not based on fact. He said the Master Plan states the areas that do not require a waterfront location (tennis courts, pavilion, senior center) should be relocated in favor of water-related uses.

The city has been looking into improving the Yacht Club since 2006, when a survey was done and residents told the city what they wanted, Hernandez said.

“They wanted an expanded beach and a parking garage in 2006 and more amenities. So, we are delivering on all of that and all those needs and desires were reinforced throughout the public input process when putting together the parks master plan, which was the framework of the parks GO Bond,” Hernandez said.