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Council cautious about proposed swimming facility

By Staff | Jan 12, 2010

The Cape Coral City Council is remaining cautious when it comes to the proposed USA Swim Center, wanting to take a long, hard look at the feasibility study before committing another $25,000 to a private firm that would review that study.
While no deadline has been set, the study is expected to be in city staff’s hands as early as next week.
All council members support the idea of a high visibility project in Cape Coral, but some division on the dais exists as to whether the swim center will be that project.
Mayor John Sullivan said he is suspicious of the company behind the project — National Swimming Center Corporation — saying that he’s yet to receive solid numbers on how much it’s going to cost the city.
He said he was told the city would have to pay 15 percent of the project’s total cost, but doesn’t know what that figure is.
“Until I see more, I’m not going to be in favor of this,” he said of paying a firm to review the study.
District 6 Councilmember Kevin McGrail, who’s district would be home to the facility, said he agrees with needing to see the study before giving the OK to additional spending, but thinks his district desperately needs the project.
“The north Cape definitely needs this type of economic growth,” he said.
The proposed home of the swim center would be at the corner of Kismet Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard, at the so-called Academic Village.
The plan calls for a swimming pool and hotel complex, along with a tennis facility and development of the Academic Village in later phases.
District 4 Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said he was in favor of economic development in the city, but is leery of spending additional funds.
He also pointed to Corpus Christie, Texas, where National Swimming Center Corporation was looking to build a similar facility. That project has since been put on hold.
“I’m on board with economic development and bringing a great project to this city, but before we jump on the bandwagon, let’s ask some questions and get some questions answered,” Chulakes-Leetz said.
Ed Collins, who coaches at Oasis Charter High School and with SWIM FLORIDA — a USA Swimming-sponsored club that boats over 500 local swimmers — said a facility like the one being proposed could support state and national events, and would bring untold revenue to the area.
“They’re being cautious,” Collins said of City Council. “But I don’t know if they understand the magnitude as far as the sport goes … when we go to meets we fill hotels.”