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Council mulls Tropicana compromise

By Staff | May 12, 2020

Cape Coral City Council is eyeing a possible compromise in the development of a park that has pitted city plans for water sports there against a neighborhood group opposed to leasing part of the site for that purpose.

After lengthy discussion, council and the city Parks & Recreation Department hope that they came up with a compromise for the development of Tropicana Park that would be acceptable to the North-west Neighborhood Association and the city’s lone rowing club.

Council said Monday it would like to see an extension of the beach that had been shortened, an addition of green space and an expansion of the boat launch to the east.

An additional four parcels owned by the city would also be added to the park, which is where the rowing club is expected to be.

The playground will be moved west with the restrooms more to the center, near where the two rowing buildings were to be. Also, a proposed splash pad could be removed and placed at Meade Park due concerns regarding space at the park.

Tropicana Park was the main topic during both live and e-mailed citizens’ input, which used up the entire 60-minute time limit, with the vast majority or residents saying they don’t want a rowing club or any private group to house itself in a public park.

Those who wanted the rowing club there made themselves clear, however. One citizen accused the NWNA of misinforming the public, adding, “They’re not NIMBY, they’re NEVER!”

Most on council liked what the park could become.

“I like the concept for the rowing club. Making the beach larger makes sense and it will make residents happier,” Councilmember Marilyn Stout said.

“This could be great for economic development if we can bring northern college rowers for spring training,” said Councilmember Jennifer Nelson, a former rower.

One who didn’t agree was Councilmember Rick Williams, who said he did not like how the NWNA was pushing everyone around and that the existing design was approved by council in December.

“We’re making changes to please 1,000 people when we have 180,000 people to serve. It’s the city’s park, not the NWNA’s,” Williams said. “This is a waterfront community. It makes sense to put a rowing club there.”

Williams was the lone dissent in a 7-1 vote to redo the concept.

Mike Ilczyzyn, project manager for the city parks, said AECOM, the parks designer, can put together a concept that can brought forward to the council at its workshop meeting set for Monday.

The NWNA and the Caloosa Rowing Club, along with city officials, have been working on a compromise. Among them was to create a watersports park on Crystal Lake, a concept that was rejected because there wasn’t enough room, and on Old Burnt Store Road.

Meanwhile, the design of Tropicana has ground to a halt at 30 percent while the remaining parks included in the city’s $60 million parks master plan have proceeded on schedule.