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Council approves moving design consultants to Bay Oaks project

By Staff | Jun 18, 2020

The Town of Fort Myers Beach Council has agreed to have its design consultants DRMP concentrate on redevelopment plans for the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus after a proposed building at Bayside Park did not go over well with some neighbors.

There was some division expressed from councilmembers on Monday about what that direction should be and whether new buildings were needed. The town approved spending $47,810 with DRMP for a 30% design.

Councilmember Jim Atterholt said he had reservations about constructing a new two-story welcome center off Estero Boulevard, so close to the library, and questioned its purpose.

“To put a building there just seems odd to me.,” Atterholt said. “It’s near the library. If we are going to have meetings there, we have the library a stone’s throw away.”

The Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board and the previous town council pushed for the welcome center as a way to bring more attention to the town’s recreational campus.

Councilmember Bill Veach said one of the complaints about Bay Oaks is people don’t know it’s there.

The welcome center would include space for meeting rooms, staff space and welcome activities. Town of Fort Myers Beach Manager Roger Hernstadt said there was “no room for staff” at the current facility. Hernstadt said there would also be a building to replace the pool building and a new facility next to the pool for “passive recreation” such as yoga and card games in order to separate those users from those who play pickleball or basketball. The council also approved an outdoor fitness court back in December.

“The main thing that really changed on the plan, from the original concept plan, was the accommodation of a separate ball field,” Hernstadt said. Currently, there is a baseball field and soccer field that share space at the campus.

“I support the mission,” Atterholt said. “I do have some questions about the number of buildings and the purpose of the buildings.” Atterholt said the library had a lot of space inside.

Mayor Ray Murphy suggested a joint meeting with the library board. Councilmember Rexann Hosafros said the library is “booked solid in season with guest lecturers.”

Hernstadt said the concepts of trying to share space is “very difficult. It seems like it should be easy.”

Back in February, Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board Chair Betty Simpson called the current Bay Oaks campus “inadequate and quite frankly obsolete” and proposed a new community center and athletic center. There is also a fitness center indoors.

Simpson said surveys showed that the age of the building and changing demographics of the area led to the committee’s decision to seek an overhaul of the property. At the time, Simpson said the committee discussed the construction of a state-of-the-art three-story glass building with underground parking.