The Latest On The Big Bay Oaks Project

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BORCAB – The Bay Oaks Recreation Committee Advisory Board held their stakeholders meeting on July 13th to present and get community input on the Bay Oaks redevelopment project, a project the committee has been working hard on for the last 2 years.

Stakeholders included the Lee County School District, Lee County Parks and Recreation, The Little League, Friends of Bay Oaks and members of the community.

The presentation by DRMP project manager Paul Benvie included initial sketches and aerial views illustrating two options of how the site might look. Both included a significant redesign of the campus. One had 2 ball fields with removal of the current building and one updated the existing building, added a pavilion and one large field.

In both plans there are 3 buildings toward the main entrance which would come off Estero Blvd. BORCAB recommended a plan with the additional field. It was stressed that this is still in the beginning stages and DRMP is planning to present the 30% plan to the Town Council in September or October. The Council has not seen the plan yet.

There was some discussion about the plan with 2 ball fields related to the cost of covering them with “field turf” versus natural turf. The artificial field turf comes at an estimated cost of $1.2 for the large field and 800K for the additional smaller field out of the 5.5 million they have to work with. Little League representatives expressed their desire/need for the two fields based on volume of use considering the number of teams and the age range of those teams. The larger field is multi-sport use and includes a covered amphitheater and bleacher style seating.

Also discussed was the importance of improving the entrance to the park to increase visibility and access. Options included new pedestrian and/or vehicular entrance with a welcome center on Estero Blvd, revising the existing vehicular access and a new access off Gulf Beach. It was mentioned that the cost of the welcome center building would be estimated at $1 million. This new plan includes 2 other buildings to house programming space, the gym, offices, and meeting space. There was also mention of an exercise path and a kayak launch.

The school board was asked what they could offer. The representative stated that while they could not offer anything in terms of a financial/monetary contribution, they will make an important donation of land which is property that plays an important role in the project.

The county stated they were willing to work with the town on transferring ownership of 2 of the properties they own and will consider an interlocal agreement on the third as they have historical cottages and parking lots for Matanzas Pass Preserve.

Jacki Liszak (speaking as a resident) discussed the significant need for programming options for seniors and the aging population on the island, to provide places for social interaction, classes, and exercise..

The Town Manager discussed financing and budgeting and phasing of the project. He stated the recommendation would be to advocate for the bigger project in terms of doing the plans and bid alternatives if cheaper alternatives were needed.

BORCAB Committee member Barbara Hill stated “This is a legacy project, this is not just for us today but for the next 30-40 years “.

August 4 is the next advisory board meeting.