Kimley Horn is on the right track and that is getting the park built. There are elements of the 2009 Master Plan that need to be preserved. We hear over and over again in the MICA survey, from the people and in this last survey that the bandshell is important, wanted and needed. In the 2009 Master Plan we have an acoustically sound and strategically placed bandshell, not a roof over a concrete slab that you could see through to the water for a view. The bandshell is placed close to the intersection of Elkcam Circle and Joy Circle so that equipment, performers and people can be dropped off close to the structure and electrical for lighting and sound equipment is also easily accessible. There is a roundabout placed there for that purpose. It is angled so that the sound projects away from the residential areas and Veteran’s Memorial. There is sufficient landscaping to buffer the residential areas. This bandshell is a permanent structure and designed more on scale to the Cambier and Bonita Springs bandshells. Let’s leave the waterfront as a peaceful respite next to the Veteran’s Memorial.
The previous Parks and Recreation Committee worked many hours and spoke to many organizations, they held well attended public forums and the plan they presented to City Council was a good one and should be taken into consideration. The bandshell they presented contains restrooms and changing rooms. Seeing that the park is so big and used for other festivities it would be wise to consider a second restroom on the property more centrally located.
A second element of the 2009 Master Plan that should be preserved is the peripheral parking. The 2009 plan gives us 195 parking spaces, more than we have now (page 34). There is also green space dedicated to an additional 50+ parking spaces. Kimley Horn could tweak out even more spaces along Elkham Circle, behind the office building and Park Avenue.
In the 2009 Master Plan many suggestions were given on how to fund the Park (page 32) including Bonds, grants, Mitagation funds, non-profit donations and the increase in tax revenue as the Island grows. We have certainly experienced that with the number of new homes and the expansion of the Marriott and Crystal Shores. The Collier County Appraisers office can attest to this growth with millions more in tax revenue being generated in recent years. The debt service for the purchase of the Park will be retired in 2020 thus freeing up tax dollars. Why not consider personal and corporate sponsors, tourist tax revenue and impact fees? It is my understanding that the Bonita Springs bandshell was built with the help of a $2 million grant. We now have a lobbyist working for us, let’s put him to work on finding funds for our Park. City Council needs to explore funding for our Park now.
Someone mentioned if this could be done in phases. According to the 2009 Master Plan this is Phase 2. I’m afraid if it’s broken up into phases it’ll be strung out for another decade or longer. City Council needs to make this a priority now and get this park built now. They need to start looking into how to fund the park and how to do it all at once. In the 2009 Master Plan Phase 2 was estimated to be $9-$11 million. Let’s consider this a reasonable estimate and get it done right the first time all at once. The Park should be built now and make sure it is deserving of our citizens and future generations. Something lasting we can be proud of.