Gateway residents came out in force at today’s Gateway Services Community Development District meeting, nearly all of them pleading with the Board of Supervisors not to get rid of the basketball courts.

The Cypress Pointe HOA has been trying to convince the district to “repurpose” (their word, not mine) the basketball courts in an effort to see if getting rid of the basketball players would also get rid of the trash, apparent sexual encounters and drug deals that occur in the park. Not to mention getting rid of the visitors from Lehigh Acres.

However when it came time for the HOA President to speak to the board, she did not make a serious attempt to get rid of the basketball courts. She did, however, interrupt the meeting many times with outbursts from the audience seating area. Credit her for at least trying to get her points across I guess.

For me, the most eye-opening parts were when she said she takes this publication “with a grain of salt”, then followed it up a little later by saying her HOA board wasn’t all that interested in having the basketball courts removed.

Um. Right.

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From: Cypress Pointe HOA President
Date: June 27, 2016
To: Jeff Kuntz <jkuntz@gatewaysun.com>, R Page <r*page@aol.com>, Sean T <snt*@yahoo.com>, “boss_*_smk@yahoo.com” <boss_*_smk@yahoo.com>, J Peek <j*peek@yahoo.com>, Greg C <co*@gmail.com>, Ray V <RV*@*aviation.com>

We have asked for 18 months to convert the basketball court to pickleball. http://www.pickleballcentral.com/Pickleball_Court_Construction_Guide_s/188.htm

Cost max for conversion…$3,500 – $5,000.

It was presented at this meeting and not noted at all in the minutes. It was presented again at the meeting with April last week with me even offering to collect all the data, costs, requirements, etc to take to the Board again.

And from another email, mostly to the same group …

From: Cypress Pointe HOA President
Date: June 27, 2016
To: Jeff Kuntz <jkuntz@gatewaysun.com>, R Page <r*page@aol.com>, Sean T <snt*@yahoo.com>, “boss_*_smk@yahoo.com” <boss_*_smk@yahoo.com>, J Peek <j*peek@yahoo.com>, Greg C <co*@gmail.com>, Ray V <RV*@*aviation.com>, “jv*@comcast.net” <jv*@comcast.net>

<SNIP>

We were then going to present the pickleball conversion plan as it would change the demographic at the park and has become highly popular for all ages, not just one group enjoying and using the park. Other point of discussion was there is nothing else for the rest of the population to enjoy if you don’t play basketball. It was also noted that Stoneybrook has their own courts. Royal Greens does as well. So these GATEWAY RESIDENTS are not using the courts on Eagle Pointe Drive as they already have their own if they want to play basketball. Also, there is basketball by Gateway Baptist Church on Griffin Drive so the residents have asked for something that would appeal to another demographic when these other courts are in Gateway.

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So either the HOA suddenly altered its 18-month plan to have the basketball courts removed, or those who came out in support of the courts – including several children –  made it too awkward for the HOA to make their pitch at today’s meeting.

But there’s good news. Actually great news. The Supervisors came up with an action plan for the Fun Park, and in my opinion it’s a terrific one.

It’s also something that the Cypress Pointe HOA asked for back in April 2016, so they should be happy as well.

District staff will be devising a new lighting plan that will coincide with purchasing a surveillance system for the park. That way if a resident observes a drug deal at 11:54pm on a Tuesday night, they can email the district and tell them what time and where in the park they noticed the suspicious activity.

There will also be new signage purchased, likely advising visitors that they are being recorded. If you’re just there to play basketball or use the playground then you shouldn’t have a problem with that.

A Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy was present at today’s meeting, and he encouraged residents to provide his department with as much information as they safely can, because all information is forwarded on to their intelligence unit. The surveillance system could become a windfall of actionable intelligence for the LCSO, but hopefully it serves more as a deterrent to the illegal activities reported by Cypress Pointe residents.

Drug dealers aren’t going to sell their drugs on camera. And if they do, they’ll make the LCSO’s job easier and there’s nothing wrong with that. But again, hopefully the cameras deter the activity altogether.

Chairman Bill Guy did attempt to have the Supervisors vote on a motion to install a perimeter fence around the Fun Park, but none of the Supervisors would make the motion, so that idea died quickly.

The LCSO deputy was very much against the idea of a fence, but Guy noted that schools and other government buildings use fences quite effectively.

But the bottom line is that no fence will be built.

It was a perfect day for Gateway residents. The basketball courts will stay, a new lighting and surveillance system will be installed, and some brand new signage will be put up.

Congratulations to all who showed up and voiced their opinion. Your elected officials heard you.

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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