Public provides input on city parks
During the first two workshops at the Cape Coral Yacht Club regarding the city’s community parks, supporters of certain facilities the parks need came out in force.
Subjects such as pickleball courts and soccer fields came to the front during the first two nights of workshops Monday and Tuesday.
The public was invited to participate in these workshops to help provide input into what they believe should go into the four community parks planned for the city.
The conceptual designs shown to residents were just that, concepts. Each park will be designed with community interests in mind, which would be gathered through their comments.
Residents also got to participate in exercises designed to provide further input.
Community parks are designed to serve a larger geographic area. They are designed to engage families and visitors with multiple and diverse activities. They serve a broader purpose than the neighborhood parks and meet a wide variety of community needs.
On Monday, several dozen people came out to provide input on the proposed Lake Kennedy Racquet Center, to be located next to Sun Splash Family Waterpark on Santa Barbara Boulevard. Many of them wanted to have as many pickleball courts as they can pack in.
Dressed in pickleball shirts, they made pickleball courts the most important thing needed at Lake Kennedy, especially when you consider much smaller cities like Punta Gorda and Naples have many more courts and even hold major tournaments there.
One-word exercises had pickleball on them, they requested indoor and shaded pickleball and tried to find the perfect location for them so they don’t disturb the neighborhood.
Even North Fort Myers has indoor courts inside its recreation center, where people can play regularly, which is where many Cape residents go.
Stacy Rodman said she thought the concept was great because of the pickleball courts.
“Pickleball is a growing sport and it keeps people active in the community,” Rodman said. “It’s great exercise and anyone can do it. I play with 80 year olds and right now people in the Cape have nowhere to go to play so we drive to Punta Gorda or North Fort Myers.”
Kerry Runyon said the biggest thing she has heard about over the last two years is pickleball.
“They want their own pickleball complex, and not only will they get one, but there will be pickleball in some neighborhood parks,” Runyon said. “I hope that’s what comes out of these meetings.”
Wednesday’s workshop featured Festival Park and Yellow Fever Creek Preserve, with a crowd a little smaller than before.
Yellow Fever Creek, located along the Del Prado Extension north of Kismet Parkway, is expected to be a place to experience nature, and that seemed enough for most. Festival Park, located in north Cape Coral along Wilmington Parkway, was a different story, with the main topic being the need for soccer fields.
With more than 3,300 kids playing soccer in the city and only nine fields to put them on, parents and coaches said the fields are getting too chewed up and almost unplayable.
Zack Sheffield, a 22-year resident of the Cape, said the need for multi-use fields, for soccer, football and lacrosse, is bigger than ever, and that the city hasn’t caught up with the growth.
“It’s about developing players and the safety of the fields. They all play into their ability to grow. When you barely have enough space, the fields suffer from overuse, which requires funding to fix them instead of the need for the fields to rest,” Sheffield said. “It’s a cost that wouldn’t be there if we had enough field space.”
Kimley-Horn, the company designing the community parks, will take the data it receives, go back to the drawing board, and resubmit new concepts for another set of workshops at the Yacht Club. They will be Tuesday, Nov. 12, for Lake Kennedy; Thursday, Nov. 14, for Festival Park and Yellow Fever Creek; and Tuesday, Dec. 3, for the Yacht Club Community Park.
The concepts will be adjusted, with City Council making its decision on approval in early 2020.