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Residents provide input on future park needs

By Staff | Jan 27, 2016

Residents want something done with the old Golf Club, more trails and nature areas and lots and lots of pickleball.

That’s what more than 100 residents had to say Tuesday at the Cape Coral Yacht Club as they provided input on what they want in their parks at the first of two Parks Master Plan Update workshops.

The workshops were a chance for residents to tell the city what the current parks need and what future parks should have as it grows.

Vince Cautero, director of development, said the master plan “will find its way into the city’s long-range planning efforts, including the comprehensive plan, an amendment of the plan done some years ago.”

The workshop was facilitated by Barth & Associates, consultants for the project, and those who attended couldn’t wait to give their two cents on what the parks need to have.

“We’re here to develop a plan that meets the needs of the community, the Parks & Rec Department and the City Council,” said David Barth, principal in charge of the parks master plan. “We’re in the beginning of the process and we want to see what ideas bubble up.”

The session had a close resemblance to the visioning sessions for the Seven Islands and Bimini Basin. People were asked which facilities and programs that they thought were important and put dots on the corresponding square, as well as the actions the city can take to improve the Parks & Recreation system.

They were also shown maps of 11 current parks in the city and were asked to write down what improvements those parks needed the most.

Lyle Marshall and his wife, Marion Frane, made no bones of what they wanted – pickleball. He said Camelot Park has two tennis courts that are lined for pickleball, but have no times designated for it, meaning if there’s tennis going on, they can’t play.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in the country all the surrounding community has courts,” Marshall said. “North Fort Myers Recreation Center has six, Wakahatchee has indoor and outdoor, Bonita has built six new ones, Punta Gorda has eight outdoor courts. We’re behind the times.”

“We’re the largest city in Southwest Florida and we have to travel to other towns to play the sport we like, which is senior oriented,” said Elliott Schwartz.

Another concern, judging by all the dots in that column, was the area of the former Cape Coral Golf Club and what to do with that. Most agreed that there should be little or no concrete there. But what to put there?

“Historically, it’s part of Cape Coral. It was part of the initial plan. Once they pour concrete on that, we will never get it back,” said Alice Carney. “I’d either like to see a golf course or any kind of park, as long as it’s not buildings.”

Dick Cervi and Paul Wallander would prefer a golf course, though it would have to be a championship golf course that attracts people from all around.

“It has to be an upgrade over the existing golf course,” Cervi said. “When Fort Myers reopened their golf course, rounds went up substantially.”

The overgrown golf club hasn’t been used since 2006. Cervi said it would take more than a year to get the course back up and running.

A second workshop will be held Thursday at Christa McAuliffe Elementary.

Once this is over, they will file the needs assessment findings, present them to city council, then go to the visioning and implementation process, Barth said.

Residents unable to attend the workshops can provide input about the Parks & Rec programs via an online survey, which can be accessed from the Parks Master Plan webpage at www.capecoral.net/ParksMP