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Residents, officials examine Bimini Basin ideas

By Staff | Mar 17, 2015

Cape Coral residents got the chance to look at the Bimini Basin project study Tuesday displayed for all to see, and interact with the design team from the University of South Florida School of Architecture & Community Design at an open house presentation at the Volunteer Fireman’s Terrace Hall.

“I like the youthful minds doing things like this,” said Millard Freeman, a Cape resident since 2004. “There are three distinct concepts and I like parts of all three, but one thing I don’t like is they have not done a traffic study or traffic pattern study yet. Be there to see how much traffic there is at different hours and during season.”

The study is being led by adjunct professor Taryn Sabia using 13 architecture graduate students working in three teams. Each team came up with ideas and have refined those plans since conducting a community charette on Jan. 29 attended by city leaders, residents and more than 40 stakeholders.

After Tuesday’s unveiling, the teams will take ideas and feedback received and modify their presentations for another more formal presentation here on April 16.

“I think the students are on the right track,” said Sabia. “They took a broad look at the attributes the city has to offer and generated thoughtful ideas for development that emphasizes the characteristics of the community.”

The plans were displayed and explained by the students in thorough detail for anyone wanting an education on the project. Each team chose a name to identify their work.

The project names are Canal Works, Threading the Needle,and Bridging the Gap. Each has many components of parks, greenspace, commercial space, entertainment and residential aspects.

“I’m impressed with the number of residents who came out to be involved and get engaged in this project,” said Sabia. “After our next presentation, the city likely will select key components from each of the three projects, for instance, those that are a better fit for the city.”

Elena Saylor, who has a home on the south side of the basin, said, “I want to keep the basin a park-like area and I like the idea of an arts museum for the children.”

Many of the sketches and artist renderings represented structures of several stories, along with boardwalks and activity specific districts for entertainment, dining, commercial and residential components.

“I’m not certain what I was expecting, but my mind is open,” said City Councilmember Rana Erbrick. “I like certain parts of each project, but I’m not in love with any one of them. They are all interesting concepts, but it’s a lot to take in all at once.”

City Economic Development Director Dana Brunett also preferred certain aspects gleaned from each of the three plans.

“They are all very interesting concepts,” Brunett said. “It gets you thinking and that’s what they want. It opens things up, like the parklands and an internal marina to get boats out of the basin.

“It really gets the juices flowing about what it could be, but it will take private development to pull it off. I like the observation tower from one plan and the parks aspect designed to draw you in from another plan.”

The Canal Works project concluded with a projection of phases for the entire area. It started with what could happen in 2015, 2016, 2017 and all the way out to 2050.

“So much comes into play with that,” said Sabia. “It comes down to what the city chooses to do and the money available. There are economic forces to consider and private investments. It could take 50 years, or it could take 15. It all depends on how developers see the area, how many people and jobs it draws, a lot of factors.”

The grad students said the process so far has been incredible for them.

“It was good to sit down with the community and share ideas,” said Zach Yarnell. “These ideas were driven by that charette meeting, it all came from that day.”

“We’re all emotionally invested in it now,” said Emily Thomas.

“I’m anxious to get back and start filtering in new ideas,” said Sanchelle Lee.