Could The New Bay Oaks Building Be Nixed?


The plan to build a new $5.5 million Bay Oaks Recreational Campus is receiving criticism from the community, and a former Mayor. Is there enough of a groundswell to put the project on hold? Here’s what we know.

We know that in addition to the estimated $5.5 million to build a new Bay Oaks building, there is no money in the town budget to put anything in that new building. No money for furniture, fixtures, equipment, or anything else to fill the new building. In January, Town Manager Roger Hernstadt said, “It’s going to be a beautiful building without a chair to sit on.”

Last week, when discussing the project and the number of people that use the facility, Bay Oaks committee member and former town council member Bruce Butcher said, “it makes you wonder why we’re going to spend $8 million to expand Bay Oaks.

This week, former Mayor Anita Cereceda weighed in on the subject. She wrote a letter to the town council asking them to consider pausing the project and coming up with a plan to prioritize the big-ticket expensive projects on the island.

We conducted a Facebook poll yesterday, asking our readers what the top two projects on the island are to them. For the poll, we gave readers four options: Bay Oaks expansion, Estero Boulevard Lighting, Times Square renovations and Community Policing. They had to pick only two. By far the top two are community policing and the lights on Estero Boulevard.

On top of all the recent criticism about the expansion at Bay Oaks, town manager Roger Hernstadt told the Bay Oaks committee, they had to drastically increase rates at the pool and for other amenities being offered at Bay Oaks or the town might not be able to renourish the beach or light Estero Boulevard. As a result, the committee approved massive fee hikes which the council will now consider during budget hearings next month.

Perhaps sensing the community was not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about the fee hikes, the Bay Oaks committee has scheduled a special meeting for tomorrow at 9AM. The only item on the agenda is the higher fees.

Improvements planned for the 15-acre Bay Oaks campus include: the new building, two ball fields with lighting, improved entrance and exit for pedestrians and vehicles, outdoor basketball, pickleball, tennis courts, a stage for concerts and events and a new outdoor fitness area installed not too far from Estero Boulevard.


  1. Jp. Policing is needed. Two officers is not enough. You’ll soon find this out and change your tune if something happens at your home. Or to a family member visiting. Sorry but you are completely wrong on this. Perhaps you should look at the number of calls two officers must respond to. You’ll see it’s impossible. Or maybe you’d like to be a community leader and step up and help them in your off time?

  2. We don’t need and can’t afford community policing. Town should be utilizing assigned county deputies more effectively. Basic lighting for Estero Boulevard
    should be installed. Significant additional baby turtles would never be saved with expensive amber lighting.

  3. The quagmire we find ourselves in is indicative of how badly this town is in need of new leadership. We need a strong leader and town council members that are fiscally responsible, open minded, and have the vision and common sense to lead FMB into the future and to navigate our way through the renaissance the Island is undergoing. STOP WASTING TAXPAYER MONEY on unnecessary, excessive and wasteful items; parking app? E-car charge stations? Millions on Bay Oaks improvements? Expensive amber street lights at taxpayer expense? Millions more on property purchases? Planning effectively and setting priorities is critically important as is communicating with and listening to FMB residents and business owners and working together as a team in moving forward. We need town council members that are willing and committed to overhauling the code enforcement & permitting departments and in hiring the best town manager and town attorney as is possible. We deserve better. Sadly, it is obvious that 3 of our 5 current council members are incapable and/or unwilling to do what’s best for the community. It’s time for change, make your vote count in November.

  4. Why does the Government always thinking they must spend our hard earned taxes for someone else’s pleasure ?? Sooner rther than later they’re goin to run out of OUR monies!

  5. Agree. Look at Leonardo Arms and the help they need on their beach! Blvd lighting and safety should be high on the list also.

  6. Please stop spending money we do not have. The council is acting like a bunch of Democrats that have a hole in their pockets. How about building a rainy day fund? Do we have money in case of a Cat 5 hurricane?

    • Exactly and is the permit dept ready for the onslaught of permits that all we be needed when another Irma hits? No they barely got through last time with Irma when Lee County was still running the boat. Can you even imagine? Dealing with the city permitting, contractors, architect/engineer and insurance and everything is stalled because the city cannot get the paperwork processed. Attorney’s to get the insurance company to start moving. Be a huge nightmare waiting to happen. I say sell before the next big storm hits. Or get some folks in that can lead.


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