Christmas might be coming a little early for some residents in the Cypress Pointe community. And the Gateway CDD may be the ones dressed as Santa Claus.

The Gateway Sun has learned that at the December 15, 2016 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Operations Manager April White will inform the board that the surface of the basketball court located at the Fun Park is beyond repair and needs to be completely rebuilt.

The basketball court was last resurfaced in 2012 with a 2-year warranty, and even then there were disclaimers from the vendor in regards to the cracked surface.

This time around the vendors aren’t willing to offer any warranty whatsoever, and the district believes they may have to shut down the courts for safety reasons if nothing is done.

But rather than viewing this as a problem … White is looking at the situation as an opportunity.

White wants the Supervisors to consider obtaining proposals to design the parcel of land surrounding the Gateway Commons Pool with any proposal including space for at least one basketball court, a dog park and other yet-to-be-determined amenities which would be built in the future.

There would be no duplication of services. Rather, the basketball court at the Fun Park and the Dog Park at the Sherman Soccer Complex would be relocated from their existing locations.

The Supervisors would also consider which other amenities to construct at the facility – finally giving Gateway the community park that was envisioned when that piece of land was set aside decades ago by the developers.

Here’s the thing.

The GSCDD has over $100,000 in impact fees from Lee County that must be spent on new projects by the Parks and Recreation Department. So that’s good. But aside from those funds, there is absolutely no money in the FY2017 budget for any of this.

Here’s the other thing.

About eight years ago the entire Gateway community got in to a massive fight over building a $7.4 million dollar park in that area. The issue bitterly divided the community and the Sun was told that for several years any and all discussion in regards to building a park was officially banned at GSCDD meetings.

But those days are over.

Perhaps the Supervisors could consider a multi-year, phased approach, with the first phase being the basketball court and dog park only. Then after soliciting opinions from Gateway residents they could help devise a plan to build a park that would add some amenities to the community while not coming anywhere near reaching a $7 million price tag.

The 2016 elections gave the board a mandate to move the community forward in terms of building something new for the residents to enjoy, but that message could change in the future. So the benefit of a phased approach – rather than committing to the whole project at once – is that if the economy turns bad in the future and adding amenities becomes unpopular with the residents the board could suspend any future development at the site.

In addition to the basketball court issue, the Gateway Commons Pool is badly in need of an update. The Dog Park has also experienced some bad luck with lightning and some believe its physical location may be a contributing factor.

Nothing new could actually be built until fiscal 2018. But considering an all-encompassing solution for at least these three problems would be prudent.

If the board opts to move the basketball court close to the pool, they could still resurface the court at the Fun Park as a “band-aid” solution while a larger plan is devised.

Hopefully the Supervisors show up for this Thursday’s meeting with some ideas already in mind. While nothing specific can be decided this week, the board can at least give White some over-all direction on which way they’d like to go.

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

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