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Hold steady II

By Staff | Oct 4, 2019

The city of Cape Coral is ready to embark on its next round of public workshops officials hope will help hone the designs for the community parks component of its $60 million parks master plan.

As with the public input sessions held for the seven new neighborhood parks to be constructed and equipped with voter-approved general obligation bond money, the meetings to garner additional input for the four much larger and recreationally “diverse” facilities are intended to tweak the details around the core designs presented to Cape voters before they agreed to tax themselves to pay for the amenities promised.

We urge Cape residents and taxpayers to attend the upcoming meetings for the proposed changes to the Yacht Club and Lake Kennedy as well as for the new Festival Park and Yellow Fever Creek Preserve.

They are your parks.

It is your money.

The open-house style sessions will run from 6-8 p.m. at the Cape Coral Yacht Club, at 5819 Driftwood Parkway, on the following dates: Lake Kennedy Racquet Center (Oct. 10 & Nov. 12), Festival Park (Oct. 9 & Nov. 14), Yellow Fever Creek Preserve (Oct. 9 & Nov. 14) and the Yacht Club Community Park (Oct. 10 & Dec. 3).

Expect to be dazzled:

– The concept plans for the Yacht Club Community Park, one of the Cape’s oldest and most popular facilities, is looking at a major refresh to include an opening of the riverfront and more parking, including a single-level “parking deck.” The original plan also called for the removal the existing tennis courts and the addition of bocce ball. (We expect a lot of discussion here.) The improvements budget for the park on Driftwood Parkway is $11.2 million. Anticipated competition is in 2021.

– Concept plans for the new Lake Kennedy Racquet Center call for tennis and pickleball courts, a covered tournament court as well as a kayak/canoe launch into the lake. The budget for improvements to the park on West Kennedy Drive is $5 million for phase 1 and an additional $1.4 million for phase 2. Anticipated completion is 2021.

– The concept plan for Festival Park – years and approximately $27.9 million already spent on the land assemblage – calls for an amphitheater, trails, pavilions, a fitness center and multiple soccer fields with land carved out for Seahawk Air Park. The site is at Wilmington Parkway and Chiquita Boulevard. The infrastructure budget is $5.1 million with an anticipated opening in 2021.

– The 340-acre Yellow Creek Preserve concept plan includes an extensive trail system, camping and picnic areas, and a dog park. The property is at 2801 Del Prado Blvd. and the budget is $4.45 million. Anticipated opening is in 2021.

Concept plans for all of the parks in the master plan may be found at capecoral.net/GoBond .

As we did with the sessions regarding the neighborhood parks, we encourage Cape residents and taxpayers to attend. Again, these are your parks and you will be paying for them.

We also reiterate the one caveat previously shared.

Much as we endorse public input, we continue to stress that it was public input that got us here.

Public input at multiple meetings over multiple years as the facilities plan was drafted and finalized.

Public input – and endorsement – at the ballot box.

In the case of the community parks, neither Council nor the public should be looking to rechannel funds to abet pet projects that would move money for needed facilities into areas where there are amenities aplenty.

The Yacht Club comes immediately to mind.

There now is support for the add-on of a multi-level parking garage with rooftop restaurant overlooking the river. It’s not a bad concept, just one that melds better with the city’s plans for the Bimini Basin and the elimination of parking requirements for the South Cape than the GO Bond plan. If a change this pricey is desired, don’t pull funds from recreational amenities included in the Parks Master Plan to pay for it.

This also is not a time to kill what have come to be known as oh-no-not-in-the-Cape projects, i.e. anything that carries any taint of “noise,” “traffic” or a change in the entrenched status quo.

Festival Park comes to mind here on two fronts.

There have been some concerns expressed about possible “intrusion” on the existing Seahawk Park component and also on whether the Cape, population nearly 200,000, is the proper place for a – gasp – amphitheater.

We strongly support the R/C club and its activities but we – and the voters – also see the need to get some bang for the millions invested over the decades for the destination location to serve Cape Coral residents well into the future.

Regarding the planned lawn-seating amphitheater, we refer to the long-designated name and purpose: Festival Park. So yes, music, please, – and a home for the kind of festivals the Cape does so very well.

Tweaks, absolutely. Maybe it’s pickleball over bocce.

But, Council must hold steady.

The parks master plan is both a catch up and long-vision look at the city we want to be.

Let’s keep that vision in mind.

– Breeze editorial