Monday is a Big Day For The Future of Bay Oaks


Before the regularly scheduled town council meeting Monday, the Fort Myers Beach town council and the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board will hold a special meeting to attempt to get on the same page regarding the future of the campus. As things stand now, the two sides are very far apart.

At issue is whether the town will spend approximately $5.5 million on an upgrade that features one building, an attached amphitheatre and other upgrades. Or, spend $15 to $20 million (see plan below) on a much bigger facility, including a detached amphitheatre, more fields and buildings and other upgrades.

The $5.5 Million Plan

The Town Manager is behind the $5.5 million project.

The committee wants the larger projected, done in phases, that might also include a tax hike to help fund it.

As you can see the gap between the two sides is not small.

In addition, the committee has felt slighted by Town Manager Roger Hernstadt, and has spent its last few meetings making that clear. They have been very critical of the communication they receive from town staff. Committee members were not shown the $5.5 million plans before Hernstadt pitched it to the town council. The council seemed to like the plan Hernstadt pitched but put the brakes on moving forward after hearing how upset committee members were. The Bay Oaks committee called it “half-assed.”

Just this week the Bay Oaks Committee unanimously passed a motion asking the council to approve the bigger project and phase it in over time. One committee member said, “We don’t want a modified building.” Lee Melsek, who’s been a very outspoken committee member regarding the lack of communication from Hernstadt said, “It’s really a shame. In July we were revved up about our vision. I’m not convinced this is over. I’m not convinced we won’t get most, if not all of what we wanted.”

It was also brought up this week that even at $5.5 million, for the smaller upgrade, is over budget at this time.

The town is borrowing $10 for three major projects (Bay Oaks, Times Square and Bayside Park).

At the joint meeting Monday members of the Bay Oaks committee also plan to ask the town council exactly how that $10 million is going to be allocated to see if they can get more from that pile.

The meeting begins at 9AM. We will carry it live on the Beach Talk Radio Facebook page.

Plan presented to the Bay Oaks Committee in June 2020



  1. Your Beach Talk Radio inteview with BORCAB representative Karen Woodson was terrific and helped convey this issues before the town concerning the redevelopment plans for Bay Oaks Parks and Recreation Campus. Thanks for getting the word out. Hope the community endorses the larger vision, and will make their voices heard in support. By showing the planners’ vision for Bay Oaks here in this newsletter will help the public get a better sense of what they can enjoy in the future – clay tennis courts, additional racquetball courts, a multipurpose community gathering center for events, meetings, and passive recreation activities. Also, an athletic center for a new gym, well equipped large weight room, fitness classes such as spin, yoga and pilates. All generations are aware of the importance of staying healthy and having fun. We seek to make all these amenities happen. Our Estero island community deserves it! BORCAB Vice Chair, Barbara Hill

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