Tropicana Neighborhood Park was discussed at the Council Meeting on Monday. After the meeting, I sent the following memo to the City Council.
After a full hour of speeches, videos, and memos read by the City Clerk, and after a request by one Council Member to move forward with the plan that puts both clubs on the park as approved on December 2, 2019, things took a turn for the positive.
Council took charge of the park design and made significant changes based on the input received from the residents. The input they reacted to was not solely from the NWNA, rather it was input from all areas of the city. I was impressed and pleased. The vote on the new design was 7-1 with District 6 as the only dissenting member.
Staff was directed to make the suggested changes to the design and bring the plans back for approval.
This is significant as there is an approved resolution that will be removed and replaced with another resolution for the revised design.
There are some loose ends that need to be tied up, including the Splash Pad and the last-minute introduction of Dragon Boats on the Park. I was totally surprised by that news and I don’t support further compromising the Neighborhood Park for another club.
If you have questions or comments on these last two loose ends, I suggest you write an email to the Council.
I still do not believe Tropicana Neighborhood Park is the only viable location for the Rowing Club.
Last week, the NWNA sent an email to Council with the attached proposal for a permanent location at Crystal Lake Park.
Note that the NWNA proposal was a short-term solution and a long-term vision. It never proposed putting rowers in Crystal Lake as was erroneously stated by opponents to the plan. In the proposal, Rowers would still use the North Spreader.
During last night’s Council meeting, additional changes were made to the Tropicana Neighborhood Park design – all based on your input.
Another revised design will be brought forward at the next Council Meeting for review. At this point, I ask that we step back and wait to see what comes forward. There is no need to communicate with Council, other than to gratefully thank those who kept this in play as long as they have and for continuing to listen to the residents. The park design is definitely in the hands of the Council with input from the residents.
Our goal in this lengthy process was to have six issues addressed while helping to find a location for the club(s). Promises were made and promises are now being kept.
Lack of Transparency in the Park Design – It can’t be undone, but it is known the design and communication processes could have been more transparent. Let’s move on.
Safety of all boaters – We have raised awareness of the volume of traffic in the NW Spreader and I believe the protection of all boaters, present and future, is in the right hands. Let’s move on.
Unrestricted access – We are assured all park amenities (docks, ramps, etc.) will be available to the public. Some amenities paid for by the clubs will also be available for public use and we appreciate that. Let’s wait to see the Priority Use Agreement (PUA).
Zoning – all amenities and design (including the new park property along Old Burnt Store Road) will conform to the Land Use and Zoning rules everyone must obey. Let’s move on.
Use of Funds – amenities solely benefiting the club will be paid for by the club. The PUA will be complicated and I am confident there are enough eyes on it, including the City Attorneys. We will also have an opportunity to review it. Let’s be patient and see what the agreement looks like.
Fit in the Neighborhood – our concern about the equipment and its fit in the neighborhood was raised and addressed. Storage trailer parking and fences were discussed in detail and I am convinced this is adequately addressed, but let’s wait to see the PUA.
ALL issues raised by the NWNA when your input was solicited back in September 2019, are being considered by Council and the Rowing Club has a new home. Success. Just like last week, Council took charge of the park design, based on residents’ input. The major issues considered last night were.
- Splash Pad – after healthy discussion led by CM Cosden, Council proposed putting a Splash Pad in Joe Stonis Park. This is actually a better location (my opinion).
- Fit in the Neighborhood – CM Gunter led a great discussion on the location of the club, the type of equipment that can be placed on the park, and the specific boundaries of the space for the Rowing Club.
- Use of Funds and the relationship with the Rowing Club – CM Cosden led this discussion, followed by the City Attorney explaining the complexity of this PUA and the uniqueness of the relationship with the club. Her words (paraphrasing) – this is not like the other relationships and there are a lot of tentacles. My words – this is going to be a very complicated and difficult PUA to write.
Let’s continue to deal with facts and present them in a professional, concise manner. You have all done a marvelous job staying on point, in a very tense situation. Well done.
Thanks. I will keep you posted.
“When you go into the end zone, act like you've been there before.”
. – Vince Lombardi
President – Northwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, Inc.
The Stakeholders Group did not come to an agreement on an alternate location for the Rowing Club. See the memo from the City Manager to the City Council in the link below.
The Rowing Club was offered a prime location on Old Burnt Store Road, but they refused it and want to be on Tropicana Neighborhood Park. Let’s start calling their park, the Cape Coral Watersports Park because that’s what it will become if you do nothing.
See the Concept Plan below that was presented to the Rowing Club. Note that this reasonable solution provides the park promised to the residents and it gives the Rowing Club an excellent location on Old Burnt Store Road.
This special deal was rejected by the Rowing Club and City Staff and all members of the Stakeholders Group except John Bashaw.
The City plans to present a Priority Use Agreement for the Rowing Club to City Council for approval. A Priority Use Agreement is just like it sounds. It provides the Rowing Club priority use of your public park.
If you see this as a problem or if being shown plans for a park that the City never intended to build is a problem, you need to show up at the City Council Meeting.
You do not need to speak, but we need you in the chairs to show City Council that we are not going to quietly let this happen.
This mistrust in government-issue affects all residents of Cape Coral.
We assume this item will be on the agenda for the Monday, March 16, 2020, meeting at 4:30 PM in Council Chambers. If that date changes, I will let you know.
These two Concept Plans tell the entire story. The Concept on the top is what you were shown and were told Tropicana Neighborhood Park would look like. Let’s call that plan Tropicana Neighborhood Park.
The Concept Plan on the bottom is what the City intended to build. Let’s call that the Cape Coral Watersports Park.
It’s important to understand – the City was developing the Cape Coral Watersports Park plan while they continued to tell you the park you were getting was the Tropicana Neighborhood Park.
We've seen this before!!
Tropicana Neighborhood Park
(aka Cape Coral Watersports Park)
Please see The Breeze article from 2013 regarding the City's efforts to build a facility for the kayak club on Lake Kennedy. The effort failed as a result of the Lake Kennedy and Saratoga Lake residents fighting the city tooth and nail. The city did not build the facility for the kayak club but instead leased a city-owned house on the Lake Kennedy property to the kayak club. Now they are trying to do something similar on Tropicana Neighborhood Park.
This is the same playbook the City is using to build a Watersports Park on the location you were told would be Tropicana Neighborhood Park. In 2013, there was also a Stakeholders Group meeting, there was also information withheld, and there was also a plan to support a private club with taxpayer dollars.
I used to live on Saratoga Lake which is connected to Lake Kennedy. I moved from Saratoga Lake in 2013 during all this nonsense and I recently discovered that it was my Saratoga Lake neighbor who led the resistance against the City's plans to build a facility for the kayak club using taxpayer dollars. The problem then, as it is now, is the city's lack of transparency. I am very familiar with the playbook the City is using and you need to know this is yet another chapter in that book.
President – Northwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, Inc.
We thought you might be interested in reading the educational material sent out by the City prior to the GO Bond vote in 2018. Check out the diagram for Tropicana Neighborhood Park.
We continue to be your voice in these discussions and will make sure your concerns are heard and addressed. I will continue to send out additional updates as things progress.
Saturday, January 18th, 1:00 PM
814 West Cape Estates Circle
Park in the empty lot across from the green grassy area. Look for parking signs.
WCE will provide pop-ups for shade, chairs, a sound system for speakers, and a microphone.
Feeling a little out of the know on the proposed changes to Tropicana Neighborhood Park? Come and listen to the NWNA President speak on the topic and learn more about the City's plans for Rowing & Kayak clubs at your neighborhood park.
Learn what you can do to support the fight against the City leasing Tropicana Neighborhood Park property & help the 2 clubs find a more suitable, safe permanent home.
At the meeting, we will provide talking points for the next City Council meeting. We need you to speak for up to three minutes.
We intend to see Tropicana Neighborhood Park look just like the plans that are shown on the billboard today! We also want to help find a permanent home for these two clubs.
Special thanks to West Cape Estates, a PRIVATE gated community, for allowing the PUBLIC to use their facilities.
Thank you in advance!
On January 6, 2020, during the Unfinished Business section of the Cape Coral City Council Agenda, Tropicana Neighborhood Park was discussed. It was not a discussion on the Lease Agreement, but rather it was a GO Bond Update.
Several Council Members appeared pleased with the current path for Tropicana Neighborhood Park, which included space for the Kayak Club and the Rowing Club.
Council Member Williams inquired as to why the pace was so fast and requested that the Parks and Recreation Department slow it down.
Council Member Gunter asked why Tropicana was selected for the clubs and asked if there are other locations that might work better.
We continue to be your voice in these discussions and will make sure your concerns are heard and addressed. I’ll be sending out additional updates as things progress.
Thank you all for responding to my request for your thoughts on Tropicana Neighborhood Park. As a reminder, the City plans to lease property on Tropicana Neighborhood Park to the South Florida Canoe Kayak Club and the Caloosa Coast Rowing Club. Both clubs are private entities and are not Parks and Recreation functions.
There are five areas of concern that were raised due to the lack of disclosure of the city's plans for the park.
Lack of Transparency - Plans to locate the clubs on Tropicana Neighborhood Park were not disclosed to the public until late November, two months after the public input meetings
Safety – The clubs and power boats will use the North Spreader Waterway simultaneously, close to several blind S-curves. Discussions have taken place regarding safety for the South Florida Canoe Kayak Club, but work does need to be done to ensure safety for all boaters when the Caloosa Coast Rowing Club and other competitive paddlers use the waterway.
Limiting Access – Residents may not have access to the portion of the park leased to the clubs. Access to the North Spreader Waterway may be restricted when competitive events are held.
Quality of Life – For an unknown reason, the City chose not to disclose the true plans for the park until it was too late to act.
Use of Funds – We question the authority of the City to use GO Bond Funds to develop the park in a manner that benefits a private club(s). These concerns remain because of a lack of public input on the plans and inadequate timing for the residents to voice their concerns between the time the plans were revealed and the date of the City Council meeting where park plans were approved.
The date for the City Council Meeting to discuss the lease is tentatively set for January 6, 2020. I will keep you posted. Your presence at the meeting is important, so wear your NWNA T-Shirts if you have one, and express your position by speaking during Citizens Input.