Capital projects: Organizations hail funding
By JIM LINETTE
New lighting for the softball fields at the Cape Coral Sports Complex will be a welcome relief for the Parks & Recreation Department league players who use the facility virtually all year long.
“We’re thrilled,” said Jennifer Ford of the Cape Coral 50-Plus softball league that plays 30-game seasons on Tuesday and Thursday nights there. “I understand it will be a softer kind of lighting that will make it easier to see the ball in the outfield.”
The LED style lights are coming soon after City Council approved the last of the $415,000 in funding Monday night. The contract piggybacks on one that Clay County already has with Musco Lighting. It is the biggest of three projects approved by council, including $44,000 in upgrades to BMX Park and $117,000 in improvements to the Cultural Park Theater.
The original lighting was installed in 1992 when the Sports Complex was built. Over time those lights have deteriorated to the point that light levels, measured in foot-candles, are no longer acceptable for nighttime adult softball play.
“It’s not a dangerous situation, but it will make for a safer environment,” said Ford. “At night it’s hard for the players to judge fly balls. You can barely see players in the outfield.”
Original lights were installed at 30 foot-candles in the infield and 20 foot-candles in the outfield. The new LED lighting will improve the infield light level to 50 foot-candles and 30 in the outfield. This will allow the city to attract many softball and youth baseball groups to the facility by meeting lighting requirements. The city runs a number of adult and youth baseball and softball leagues at the complex several times each year.
At BMX Park, the starting gate will be replaced and the staging area shade upgraded. Larger bleachers will be installed, new asphalt on two of the track’s turns and upgrades to the audio-visual equipment.
The park was built in 1978 and hosts sanctioned and local bicycle motocross racing. Practice sessions are held during the week and racing is held most weekends.
Cultural Park Theater will receive improvements to stage lighting and sound systems, new marquee lighting, replacement of the roof, exterior painting and improvements to the restroom plumbing.
“These are long needed repairs, long overdue,” said theater executive director Michael Moran. “We are thrilled to see these happen. We’ve had issues with the roof for seven years. We do stage shows during rainy season and actually put buckets on the stage during performances. The rain has done damage to the stage lighting, so that will be upgraded to LED lighting, and save us on the electric bill.”
He said the biggest complaint received from patrons is that one of the restroom stalls is not working. The plumbing was installed in 1987.
“It’s like a godsend for us,” Moran said. “It’s a real blessing.”
Moran said the city will meet with the theater board to figure out scheduling of the project because shows are nonstop.
“Working around the show dates will be tricky,” Moran added. “I know the city wants to move as quickly as they can. Of course, they can replace the roof without much interruption as well as the exterior painting. It’ll be the bathrooms that will be tricky.”
Cultural Park Theater’s Broadway Season kicks off Sept. 9 with the opening of Seussical The Musical. The family oriented musical plays through Sept. 18.
For more information on the theater and its upcoming season visit culturalparktheater.com/broadway-season