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Residents question Tropicana Park changes

By Staff | Jan 7, 2020

Northwest Cape residents cried foul Monday over a proposal to lease land at Tropicana Park to a pair of water-oriented clubs.

There are plans to house the Rowing Club and the South Florida Canoe Kayak Club at the park to be developed as part of the city’s $60 million Parks Master plan, with storage areas earmarked for club watercraft.

At issue is concerns about putting private clubs on public property, especially a park to be funded through voter-approved general obligation bonds to be paid back with a new property tax levy.

Many in opposition of the plan — though they generally support the clubs — said they never got to see the proposal, which also includes a club house in the plans made available for online viewing. Instead, they say, they saw two other renderings.

“It seems municipal park design has turned into a contact sport. Two public plans were shown to the public but not the one with the clubs,” said John Bashaw, president of the Northwest Neighborhood Association.

“Citizens didn’t get a chance to see the plan that was not shown online. There was a lack of transparency,” said resident Carolyn Jones.

Mike llczyszyn, a public works director in charge of the parks plan, said the modified plan was presented during the public input phase of the plan.

“We had an area that showed a designation for a possible club. Saying that we never produced documents is just not true,” llczyszyn said.

Cape Coral Councilmember Rick Williams said the plans for the parks are going at a breakneck seed, maybe too fast. But he added he supports the clubs.

“Let’s slow it down because once decisions are made, everyone suddenly has different ideas and it’s too late once we have input,” Williams said. “Anyone should have input at any time. I think a club is a win-win. People can learn to kayak and not take anything from the parks.”

Residents, though, were concerned that too many kayaks could create problems with water access.

In other business at Monday’s regular Cape Coral City Council meeting:

n City council voted unanimously to deny a proposal by a home builder to have property land use designation changed from commercial professional to single-family residential for the purpose of building a house at 4623 Chiquita Blvd.

The P&Z Commission narrowly voted to approve the change and staff recommended approval.

However, Joe Mazurkiewicz of BJM Consulting, argued that a single-family home in an area designated for commercial would have a negative impact on property values and result in negative cash flow for the city through the use of services.

“We don’t need any more 10,000-square-foot single-family lots and spot land use. If we continue to allow commercial properties to become residential, nothing will change,” Mazurkiewicz said. “We have to stop this scenario.”

Williams agreed, saying it made more sense to keep it commercial and made the motion to deny.

n Council continued until Feb. 10 an ordinance that would change the designation of some properties from Open Lands and Wetlands (a county designation) to Open Space (OS). Council also approved the sale of more surplus property.

n Council appointed Lisandra Perez-Zayas to the audit committee and appointed Toni Nicole Dent-McNair, Jennifer Desrosiers, Daniella Fergen, Robert Renshaw and Carmen Salome to the Citizens Advisory Board.

Ed Crann, Ronald Frey and Jodi Pickett were named to the Golf Course Advisory Board, and Isaac Burgos, Gary Colley, Edith Colon, and William Joseph to the Construction Regulation Board.