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$100 Million Yacht Club plan

By Staff | Feb 3, 2023

To the editor:

At the winter retreat held by the City on Jan. 26, the City Manager and his consultant presented plans to rebuild the entire Yacht Club area. The five plans presented will most likely cost $100 million and take 5 – 10 years to complete. All plans eliminated the tennis courts. No plan called for building the Yacht Club facilities back to the way it was prior to the hurricane or with the planned Park GO bond enhancements.

The city has no plans to reopen any amenities of the Yacht Club other than allowing by contract The Boathouse restaurant to open and the city providing some amount of parking. The Boathouse plans to be ready to reopen by the end of February. The Boathouse lease gives them exclusive rights to food and beverage sales through September 2033 for the entire Yacht Club area.

FEMA will only reimburse the city for replacement of facilities to its existing state prior to the hurricane. This process will take a year to understand what FEMA would pay, then the city would have to come up with a finance plan to rebuild to their new plan. The only idea so far is to finance the project by a revenue bond and charge for parking to cover the cost. The city knows that asking for a tax increase for this would be a nonstarter due to the city’s mismanagement of the Parks GO bonds that are costing 50% more and taking twice as long to complete. The city has already spent $2.5M on design work for the Yacht Club. No work has started on the Yacht Club after four years from the time of the Parks GO bond vote. The city is good at blaming others or events, such as, the pandemic, inflation, permitting and now has the hurricane as an excuse.

The history of the city to be able to manage a project of this size is dismal at best. I would like to support a fresh concept at the Yacht Club, but I have no confidence of the city to be able to get it done. The best we can hope for is to rebuild the Yacht Club per the GO bond enhancement plan and replace the Ballroom & Rotino center, pool and pier to what FEMA would approve paying for. If they use this approach, they may have a chance of getting it done in three years. Hopefully they will choose a phased approach so we can get some of our amenities back sooner than later. The city should refurbish the beach quickly so it can be used in conjunction with the Boathouse opening. Also, the tennis courts are the least damaged, they could be reopened quickly and used while the city spends two years deciding what to do. The new Racquet Center at Lake Kennedy will not be open for two years as well. Lake Kennedy is another example of the city’s mismanagement of a project, three years late and twice the price.

When are the citizens of Cape Coral going to hold the city accountable for costs and schedules?

Tom Shadrach

Cape Coral, District 1