How Much Will A New Bay Oaks Cost?

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The Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board (BORCAB) met Tuesday for over 2 hours to discuss the multi-million Bay Oaks redevelopment plan that has been in the works for years. Two of the issues that were discussed this week were what to call the facility and how much it will cost..

The final cost of the project is still unknown. It can vary by the millions, depending on what eventually gets built; the number of buildings, whether turf for the fields will be grass or artificial.

The town has indicated that it would like to spend about $10 million on the three big community projects; Bay Oakes, Bayside Park and Times Square. About $6 million of that $10 million was estimated for Bay Oakes. The town is considering borrowing the $10 million. No decision has been made yet.

At the BORCAB meeting Town Manager Roger Herndstat said the project was intended be done in phases. BORCAB member Karen Woodson suggested more money will be needed for the project. She threw out an idea to take donations for naming rights or, perhaps, sponsorship plaques. Board member Lee Melsek was not in favor of allowing large corporations or companies to be in consideration. Herndstat said everything remains on the table.

Local resident Charlie Whitehead spoke during public comment and said Lee County and The School District should chip in funds towards the cost (both entities own property close to Bay Oaks and have offered to donate that property). Whitehead said there’s “no excuse at all for the County not to pay 1/3rd of the project and operating cost”. He referred to the many users of the property from outside the town.

Little League representative Rick Lowry also weighed in on fundraising. “Garnering public support for a plan that fits everybody is the best thing we can do. We can go out and do what you asked, get money, we can raise money.” Lowry said referencing Little league and other organizations such as soccer.

To be continued…on the final cost and where the money will come from.

The other topic discussed was the naming of buildings. Preliminary suggestions included, The Santini building and The Bassett building. Also the names of John and Harriet Dunning and Martha Redd were mentioned, they were two of the early landowners of  what is now Matanzas Pass preserve.

The discussion then moved on to naming the entire campus. Including having “Estero Island ” and “Heart of The Island” in the name. All were in agreement that the name should reflect a vision more expansive than parks and recreation, as it will be more than sports, it will include many other programs, and be a gathering place for community activities.

It was decided that BORCAB representatives would attend the Aug 17th Town Council meeting to give a report.

BORCAB’s next meeting is September 1st.