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Kayak Club expansion meeting set

By Staff | Dec 9, 2014

The people who run a local kayak club have a vision of becoming a place where athletes worldwide can train, use the waters, and even stay during summer tournaments in all sports.

That vision will be discussed when stakeholders will hold a special presentation Thursday at 6 p.m. at city hall in council chambers.

And the opposition – mostly nearby property owners – has promised it will come out in force.

The South Florida Canoe and Kayak Club hopes to build a $22.5 million training facility on the shores of Lake Kennedy, near Sun Splash Family Waterpark, that will be used by international athletes to train for international level kayaking events, such as the Olympics.

“It’s a stakeholders meeting. They’re bringing them back because of the planned expansion of their facility,” city spokesperson Connie Barron said. “They figure there will be more people this time, so instead of holding it in Room 220, it will be in chambers.”

Among those expected to attend are officials from the city’s Department of Community Development, officials for the kayak club, and the public, especially those who live in and around the area and who are expected to voice their disapproval to the plan.

Joe Mazurkewicz, representing the kayak club, is expected to unveil a public/private partnership to raise the money necessary to build the facility.

The project is expected to include a three-story, 300-bed dormitory, including a restaurant and a state-of-the-art training facility and other buildings.

The complex also would house people from other organizations, such as soccer or softball teams who are there to hold a tournament during the summer, which could raise revenues directly and indirectly to the city.

Vince Cautero, city community development director, said the presentation is two-pronged.

“The meeting is intended to discuss how a public/private partnership would work. They would have to go through the process with the city,” Cautero said. “The other part is the rezoning process, it would have to be redone and a planned development project would have to be done.”

Mazurkewicz agreed to hold a public meeting before the holidays because he said the application would be coming in for the partnership portion in January, Cautero said.

“We want the community to be aware of it so they can ask questions,” Cautero said. “The goal is to introduce and and let people digest it.”

Not everybody is pleased with the plans. Many residents, including Lynn Decker, who represents the organizations Save Our Lakes and Save Our Community Parks, is expected to be there to voice opposition, as the original intent of the land was as a community park.

“The land was taken by eminent domain for Steve Pohlman (Parks and Rec Director) to use as a public park because the city has grown so much,” Decker said. “With this kayak club, they have conjured all the things we worried about with the no-wake zones. We’re trying to save the park.”

Despite opposition, the city council voted to extend a lease in December 2013. Rent was set at $10 per year for five years with a five-year extension option.

Opponents complained they bought their property because of the lake and the ability to use their boats on it. Now, they say, it will be for international athletes, with no benefit to residents.

“It’s a very contained area. These are not big lakes. It’s not the proper place for it. They want to use the existing infrastructure instead of putting it in themselves,” Decker said. “There were so many other options, like the North Spreader.”