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Tropicana Park rally set for Saturday

By Staff | Jan 16, 2020

At the Cape Coral City Council meeting on Monday, most of the comments during citizens input regarded Tropicana Park and the plan for structures to be built for the local kayak and canoe clubs there to lease.

While neighbors in the area support the clubs in general, they worry that the buildings planned there — public buildings for private organizations — they say would encroach on parkgoers. They also maintain that helping private organizations — non-profit or otherwise — with the space for or use of public buildings is wrong.

On Saturday, citizens to Save Tropicana Park will hold a rally at 1 p.m. at 814 West Cape Estates Circle to speak out against the proposed buildings and find what they feel would be a more suitable location for the two clubs in question.

Northwest Neighborhood Association President John Bashaw is expected to speak about the plans for the potential rowing and kayak clubs and talking points for the next City Council meeting on Jan. 20 will be presented with hopes volunteers will get up and speak for three minutes.

Resident John Karcher said he expects more than 100 people at the event, many of whom are against the potential of taking away 20 percent of the usable space to the public.

Karcher added that the city’s presumed choice was not among the choices residents had when they were shown plans for the park.

“They gave us menus to pick from in September and in December they did all this stuff without us knowing behind the scenes,” Karcher said. “These parks were supposed to be the pick of the people, which is why the GO Bond passed. Now, they’re lying.”

Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello said Monday’s meeting provided a lot of misinformation about bringing the clubs in.

“They said things like they weren’t open to the public. It’s a 501c3 and they service a lot of people in the community and have been very successful at different locations for years,” Coviello said. “They were also talking about a warehouse, which would not be allowed.”

Coviello said he would like to hold a stakeholders meeting to talk about what’s going there and convince them that kayaking is no different than offering Pop Warner football or Little League, private organizations which use the same parks through an agreement with the city.

“I respect that people passed the GO Bond in order to get what they’d like in their neighborhood. I just don’t think it will be as intrusive as they make it sound,” Coviello said. “I believe in giving residents access to the water and it’s no different than any other amenity we offer.”

Coviello said he would like to have a city program devoted to canoes and kayaks in the future, which would require a place to be based.

Karcher said there are plenty of properties the city owns that they can lease the buildings to those groups.

“The baseball parks are for baseball and we have football and BMX parks for those sports. That’s totally different from this,” Karcher said “With 400 miles of canals, we can’t find another place to put these groups? There’s an agenda here.”