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Plans for $40 million parks complex gets nod

City of Cape Coral moves forward on memorandum of understanding with YMCA for pool, gyms, more

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jun 5, 2024

A plan to bring a $40 million YMCA complex to Cape Coral moved forward Thursday.

Cape Coral City Council unanimously agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with YMCA of Southwest Florida, Inc. to bring a competitive-sized pool, gyms and other amenities to Lake Meade Park in the north Cape.

“I believe every community deserves a good YMCA,” YMCA of Southwest Florida CEO and President Gene Jones said in a presentation before Council. “It is a great opportunity. If we can make this come together, it will be phenomenal for the community.”

City Manager Mike Ilczyszyn said when he was appointed as the interim manager last year, he learned about YMCA being a part of proposed project that eventually was not awarded a contract. He reached out to YMCA to see how serious they were about the project.

YMCA was serious in its commitment to come to Cape Coral.

The Lake Meade project, as originally planned, did not have a community center — there was no funding for it, nor was there any money likely in the foreseeable future.

Ilczyszyn said when he reached out to YMCA, they shared an interest in developing the center at the as-yet-undeveloped park in a growth area of the city.

“They were very interested in that opportunity,” he said. “Ultimately it would bring a YMCA to the city of Cape Coral at Lake Meade Park.”

Jones said nationally YMCA is celebrating its 180th anniversary, while locally they are celebrating 58 years serving seven counties.

Every YMCA facility reflects the community it serves, he added.

They want to hear from the community, so a community board will be put into place to talk to key stakeholders to ensure needs will be met.

YMCA was a hub for many after Hurricane Ian, as it provided 57,000 tons of food and water across the region, as well as becoming the place for charging stations and showers.

“Cape Coral certainly deserves a great YMCA. It’s an opportunity to enhance and elevate the service to our community here,” Jones said.

Chief Financial Officer John Campbell said the nice thing about the project is they would maintain everything the city was originally looking for in regards to the site plan for Lake Meade Park.

“We have worked with the city and contractor, architect to fitting the YMCA in this campus and still allowing the park amenities and to have one large parking lot to benefit everyone,” he said.

Outside there will be amenities including pickleball, tennis courts, splash pads and ball fields, as well as a boat ramp for the canal that feeds around the lake.

The two-story building would include both an indoor and outdoor portion.

There will be two full-size basketball courts in the gymnasium with a track above it on the second floor. The gymnasium could also be used for emergency situations, such as a hurricane, and providing resources.

There also will be an outdoor aquatic center with a competitive pool for long- or short-course, depending on needs. In addition, there will be a children’s play area pool and a warm water therapy pool. The warm pool allows swimming lessons for youngsters, as well as comfortable temperatures for seniors.

Inside the facility there will be a fitness center, group exercise rooms, wellness studio, cardio and strength training, and multi-generational rooms allowed for community and group events.

“The facilities are flexible and adaptable for all ages — infants to seniors with this facility,” Campbell said.

Chief Advancement Officer Scott Barnhard said YMCA is all about community — building confident, connected, secure adults, kids, and families.

“We do all this through nurturing children and teens — promoting healthy living and social responsibility,” he said. “We cannot do this alone. At the YMCA, lasting personal and social change is best accomplished when we all work together – invest in kids, health and neighbors. It’s all about partnerships. It’s a blessing to have Y partner with the City of Cape Coral to help build this community to become stronger.”

The total project is projected at $40 million, with YMCA raising $16 million of the total, the city contributing $12 million and grants and other sources the rest. Barnhard said he has all the confidence in the world they will be able to raise the additional funds.

Council members shared their excitement for the project, especially with the pool and aquatics facility, something the city lacks.

“It is very encouraging to see. You will have my support 100% of the way,” Councilmember Robert Welsh said.