Tempers Flare at Bay Oaks Committee Meeting


Town Manager Roger Hernstadt was called out by several members of the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board for altering their plan for the new Bay Oaks facility without notifying them.

Committee member Lee Melsik was angry that Hernstadt and the town staff presented a design to the Town Council that, he says, looked nothing like the plan the committee had been working on for several years. Melsik had staff call Hernstadt into the meeting so he could get answers to his questions. The discussion became very heated at times.

The town plans to spend about $5.5 million on a new Bay Oaks facility. How big that facility is and what it includes has been hashed out and debated for many months. At one point the committee had put together a wish-list for the new facility that was estimated to cost about $15 million.

It appears that Hernstadt, town staff and the town’s consulting designer took the committee’s grand plans for Bay Oaks and squeezed them into the town’s $5.5 million budget. When Hernstadt came into the meeting he told the committee that the design can still be altered if that’s the committee’s desire. He also said decisions have to be made if this is going to get built.

Melsik’s said, “When were we going to be told this? If all of this is tentative, why was it proposed to the council already. Some of this could have come to us for discussion. What we had in place looks nothing like what was presented to the council. We did a lot of work. We were owed this presentation before it was made (to the council).”

Committee member Barbara Hill said the latest design looks like a hospital or an FGCU building. “It’s not user friendly.”

The committee’s original plans started with three new buildings. That has been cut down to one under the town’s new design.

Hernstadt said if we inadvertently slighted you, it wasn’t intentional. And Hernstadt said there will be a phase two where another building can be added, which was news to everyone on the committee.

The town council has not indicated that any additional money would be allocated from its budget or from taking out another loan for an additional building at Bay Oaks.

Hernstadt told the committee that they should submit their ideas and if they need more time to do that, he would call the consultant and tell him to stop working on the design.

The Bay Oaks upgrade includes a new 14,000 square foot building and baseball fields among other things.

Melsik wanted to know if the band shelter would be big enough for the Air Force Band. He also wants a kitchen big enough so cooking classes can be held. He said the committee needs to spend a lot more time coming up with ideas to sell to the town council. “The previous council liked our ideas. I’m not sure where this council stands”


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