Following a joint meeting between the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board and the town council, Town Manager Roger Hernstadt was told to move forward with the plan for one new Bay Oaks building, a design BORCAB has vehemently opposed.
The latest plan, presented to the council in October, before the Bay Oaks committee had a chance to review it, includes one building with an attached amphitheatre. Committee members wanted a detached amphitheatre, one or two more buildings and many more amenities that would have cost millions more. Committee member Lee Melsek said the building as it stands now is inadequate. “It’s the wrong building. Right at the start, we have a problem.“
The latest 30% design will be voted on by the council at their next meeting (January 19th), which will also give the public a chance to speak on the project.
The committee was pushing for a much larger redevelopment of Bay Oaks. Their ideas included several buildings, upgraded facilities and fields and a detached amphitheatre that would be phased in over time. The bigger plan was estimated to cost $15 to $20 million and committee members do not believe the Herndstadt design allows for future phases of the project to incorporate the other amenities they are hoping to bring to the community.
The budget for the Bay Oaks redevelopment project is approximately $5.5 million. That money is part of a $10 million loan the town is using to help fund Bay Oaks, a Bayside Park upgrade and Times Square renovations. Even the smaller Bay Oaks plan that the council is leaning toward is over the $5.5 million budget.
Town Manager Roger Hernstadt was not called on to answer any questions about why he bypassed the committee completely with the smaller proposed plan. In fact, Mayor Ray Murphy angrily shot down any attempts to discuss what Hernstadt did several times during the meeting, shielding the manager from any public criticism. It’s been a challenge for the committee to get direct answers from Hernstadt who, at times, is confrontational with the committee in public meetings.
One committee member told us yesterday that the town council has completely disregarded their opinion. “The council speaks to us as if we’re children and don’t understand anything, but they pat us on the back and tell us what a great job we’re doing. Why have a committee if they’re going to completely disregard any input.”
Councilman Jim Atterholt told us BORCAB has done a great job in pressing the issues. “There will always need to be compromises along the way but it’s difficult to deny the progress that has been made thus far.”
Councilman Bill Veach has voiced his concern about the cost of the project based on the amount of use of Bay Oaks. According to stats we received from the town yesterday, about 1,150 beach residents use the facility.
Committee members may have left the joint meeting believing some version of the larger plan would be considered, even if it could be done in phases years down the road. There may be additional phases for Bay Oaks, but it appears, at least for now, that whatever else is added to Bay Oaks will follow this one building with the amphitheatre attached.
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