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Major revamp may be coming to Jaycee Park

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | May 1, 2023

A major revamp could be coming to Jaycee Park.

The Cape Coral City Council will decide Wednesday whether to enter into an agreement with Pennoni Associates to provide the final design services for the planned Jaycee Park Improvement project.

If approved, either via the consent agenda or after discussion,the city will spend up to $573,565 on a design that calls for the addition of a bandshell for small performances; a small food truck court for six to eight trucks; bar area; covered pavilions; restroom facilities; shaded benches; interconnected pathways throughout the park with pathway lighting; bike racks; boardwalk; boat dock and slips with a number to be determined; scenic walkway along the shoreline; splash pad; basketball court; playgrounds/swing sets; volleyball court; new landscaping and a public art area.

Funding would come out of the city’s General Fund and the Parks and Recreation capital project fund.

Jaycee Park has significant unrealized potential as one of the city’s major park facilities, according to proponents, and development of the park at the end of Beach Parkway, including moving its parking to the entry-side of the site, will make better use of its riverfront.

“I think in a lot of ways the park has kind of been underutilized,” Councilmember Tom Hayden said. “It’s not about upsetting anybody’s quiet environment. It’s about enriching what we have and making it better.”

Putting in a shoreline walkway, a pavilion and a food truck court — perhaps the most controversial aspect of the plan — would only enhance the value and bring more people to the park, he said.

A food truck court would provide an opportunity to entice boaters to utilize the park as well, Hayden pointed out, adding a public-private partnership for the amenity would be beneficial to park users and the city alike.

Hayden acknowledged the city has heard from neighboring residents who expressed surprise at what they say was a lack of prior notice and concern with the scope of the proposed changes.

Amenities at the park now are limited largely to playground equipment, picnic areas, gazebo, restrooms and a walking path.

“I understand the homeowners’ concerns in the area. We know there is going to be pushback on it, but I really think the plans are exactly what is needed for that place. It is a park and we want to make sure it is used to its full advantage. When we first saw the plans, I really liked it. We don’t have a lot of parks on the water,” Hayden said, adding that to build a scenic walkway will allow boaters to come in and utilize the park also, which is “a cool thing.”

The public will have opportunity for input, he added.

If another member of Council does not make this a discussion item at Wednesday’s meeting, he said he will.

“I will at least be pulling this from the consent agenda and will move to roll out a communication plan to let the residents say what they want to see there,” Hayden said.

The project area for Jaycee Park, which has approximately 1,300 feet of shoreline along the Caloosahatchee River, will be 10.54 acres located at the extreme east end of Beach Parkway at 4215 S.E. 20th Place.

The project would include shoreline improvements, such as clearing invasive vegetation and adding a dock, or finger piers, as well as a spacious river frontage area.

The work for this project began in March 2022 when the city issued a request for proposal, which resulted in one proposal from Pennoni Associates, Inc, of Cape Coral on April 4, 2022. On Oct. 14, a contract with Pennoni Associates, Inc. was entered with the city for the Landward and Waterward Conceptual Design in the amount of $33,502. In January 2023 the conceptual design was presented during a council winter retreat.

The meeting will be held 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect additional information.