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Council hears plans for Bay Oaks, Times Square

February 12, 2020
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer


The Town of Fort Myers Beach Council heard from its consultants Feb. 6 who have been a part of studies to determine plans for the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus, as well as Times Square and Bayside Park.

Earlier in the week, the council received a broad proposal from its Bay Oaks Recreational Campus Advisory Board Chair Simpson calling for two new buildings and a shifting of facilities at the site.

The Fort Myers-based consultants, Paul Benvie of DRMP Inc. and Matt Horton of EnSite, presented the options being considered for design which received general favorability from the council to the broad plans though the majority of the town council concurred at the meeting that it currently doesn't support the need for a new building at the entrance site as proposed by the committee.

However, the council does want something to attract the public to the recreation center that is visible.

"That to me is a driveway to nowhere," Councilmember Bruce Butcher said of the current site.

"There has to be something enticing there for someone to turn into the driveway," Mayor Anita Cereceda said. "I don't think it's a building."

Other options for the site the consultants have outlined, based on suggestions of the committee, include a new gym, outdoor amphitheater, an outdoor learning area, the relocation of the baseball field, and the construction of a multi-use synthetic turf field for football, soccer and baseball with a shared use for the nearby elementary school. Councilmember Joanne Shamp said the town should look into the rate of injuries that occur on artificial turf fields.

Shamp and the council indicated general support for improvements to the design of the campus.

"Right now it's not appealing to go to Bay Oaks unless your going to a specific class," she said.

Shamp said she would like a welcome center with a public bathroom.

Name change for Times Square?

The consultants have also put together options for Times Square which could affect the situation of umbrella tables though the proposal was not clearly defined during the presentation.

Somehow the topic of changing the name of Times Square itself came up and whether the standing clock should remain there.

Under questioning from Cereceda, Butcher said if the town wants to keep calling the area next to Lynn Hall Memorial Park "Times Square," it should keep the clock, if not the town should get rid of it.

"I think the clock is essential," Cereceda said.

"If somebody loves that clock, they can move it to another spot," Shamp said.

Councilmember Rexann Hosafros said "Get rid of the clock and change the name from Times Square to Sunset Square for example. People go there for the sunset they don't go there to see what time it is."

Another aspect to changes at Times Square, according to Town Manager Roger Hernstadt, are four buildings that need sprinklers which the town will provide. Hernstadt said he is hopeful the business owners will spend an estimated $20,000 or so for the sprinkler hook-ups.

"We agreed to bring the water service right up to their property," he said. Hernstadt said he's met with the businesses regarding the plans.

The consultants said they will be developing construction plans for the council's review. Hernstadt said the council will be voting on moving the plans to the next phase, most likely at its next meeting Feb. 18.



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