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Sun Splash clubhouse to be rebuilt after waterpark closes for the season

By Staff | Sep 20, 2016

Reconstruction of the clubhouse building at Sun Splash Family Waterpark lost to a fire in July will go forward after the close of the park’s season this weekend.

The decision was made Monday night by City Council, despite a proposal by Councilmember Richard Leon to hold off and bring in a third party to operate an expanded restaurant operation similar to the Boathouse at the Cape Coral Yacht Club pier.

The replacement building, to be constructed with almost $1 million in insurance funds, will be of similar size (40,000 square feed) but reconfigured inside to improve the kitchen/food service operation and better utilize the space for the guest services and gift shop areas.

Parks & Recreation Director Steve Pohlman maintained that rebuilding the structure now will allow it to be operational when the park reopens in 2017 in time for its 25th anniversary season. He said securing an outside partner for an upscale restaurant operation could take up to two years to achieve.

Councilmember Rana Erbrick supports a complete upgrade, saying, “I want to start looking at the next 25 years. The park is underutilized so we should do something really cool there. I understand moving forward, but part 2 should not be shoved off to the side.”

Pohlman said the bathing load for the park when it opened was 1,000 persons, but improvements and other considerations have increased that to 1,700 this year.

“Financially this is the most prudent way to proceed,” Pohlman said. “We will have a better design and reconfiguration of the space to enlarge the food service area.”

The popular Tot Spot attraction, which was delayed last season, also will be replaced during the park’s offseason by an interactive Pirate’s Cove attraction in time for the 2017 opening.

New fire station

Council approved a resolution to hire Sweet Sparkman Architects at a cost of $273,156 to design the new fire station to be located on Burnt Store Road. Design and construction of the No. 11 station is estimated to cost just under $3 million, which had been allocated in the city’s budgets for the next three years.

Fire Chief Donald Cochran informed council that the new station will be a one-story building similar to Fire Station 4 on Santa Barbara Boulevard near Cape High.

Mini-Bus Service

Council approved a recommendation from the Transportation Advisory Com-mission to continue to operate the city Mini-Bus Service rather that turn it over to Good Wheels of Fort Myers. The decision comes with a $30,000 payment to Good Wheels to continue its service to city disadvantaged residents that the Mini-Bus does not serve.

Erbrick and Leon voted against making the payment on the basis of reaching out to other cities and agencies in Lee County to contribute a fair share as well. Others on council were willing to approve the payment for this year, but not again next year unless more partners are included.

Utilities rate analysis

Consultant firm Burton & Associates provided its utilities rate analysis to council Monday night and recommended no change to the rates necessary for at least the next five years and possibly 10 years.

Cape Coral currently has the lowest average cost for water and irrigation in Southwest Florida. If the city were inclined to raise the irrigation rate by $1, it would generate an additional $500,000 in revenue and still be the second-lowest rate in the area.

Burton representative Andrew Burnham made suggestions for improvements such as reducing the current six-tier rate structure to a five-tier structure, and implement a more uniform rate structure on commercial users to make Cape Coral more attractive for larger businesses.

Final public hearing on budget

Council will hold its second and final public hearing to approve its Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget at 5:05 p.m. on Thursday in Council Chambers.

The next regular council meeting is at 4:30 p.m. next Monday.