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Bay Oaks Rec Center to close for upgrade

March 28, 2018
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Bay Oaks Recreation center is getting a facelift - or many, footlift is a better term.

Beginning April 18, the main area of the building's basketball courts and weight room will shut down for approximately a month while a new floor is installed.

The weight room's lifting machines are getting rehabbed, and the gym will have all new cardio equipment, Parks and Rec Director Sean DePalma said.

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Some Bay Oaks patrons have commented to the staff about the “dead spots” in the floor which inhibit their games.

And it's past due.

"The floor is about 16 years beyond its lifespan," DePalma said. "It's the original floor. That being said, it's held up pretty well."

Athletic floorings have a layer beneath the visible surface, called a "membrane," that aides in the floor's absorption abilities. Patrons of the gym, especially those playing pickleball or basketball, have noticed "dead spots" in the floor, or areas where the floor and membrane fail to absorb impact, which causes the ball to not bounce up as high as it should. The membrane will be replaced, also.

The new flooring, done with a leading athletic flooring product called Mondo, will cost about $190,000.

From April 18 to an estimated May 18, the rec center will be closed, but afterschool Club Rec and Senior field trip programs will continue uninterrupted. The pool is unaffected.

The Club Rec schedule will focus more on outdoor activities with indoor activities held in the meeting room, DePalma said.

Danielle Felton, the senior program coordinator, has multiple trips planned for the senior groups in April and May, and these trips will not be affected by the shut down.

The new flooring has a lifespan of about 10 years, but DePalma thinks Bay Oaks will be able to extend it longer than that.

With a revamp of the flooring, DePalma is hoping to start marketing Bay Oaks as a viable location for local basketball tournaments, as it is one of the few locations in the county with two courts, he said.

The gym area, which was expanded into two rooms under DePalma's watch, is also getting upgrades.

All the cardio equipment is being replaced - much of it is currently out of order.

"Everything's on its last leg, or gone out already," DePalma said.

Much of the weight equipment will be touched up, repainting, repairing and replacing worn out parts.

The gym room revamp is estimated to cost $20,000.

DePalma has been checking projects off his list since he was hired nearly a year and a half ago. Since taking over Bay Oaks, he's helped the campus get a new lighting system inside, new air conditioners, a new geothermal heater for the pool, and helped his staff develop a departmental manual to professionalize nearly every aspect of the department's work.

"My staff for the most part are highly dedicated, they're developing to become quality young professionals," he said. "I'm taking it as a personal accomplishment. When I started they were eager to work hard, and they have just excelled in that time."

Some of DePalma's work has been internal; he's been helping direct his staff to learn how to maximize tax dollars and work efficiently within Bay Oak's budget. He's also been cross-training Bay Oaks staff so someone in any position can easily transition to where ever they are needed.

Working with the Bay Oaks Advisory Board (BORCAB), DePalma and Bay Oaks is launching its first-ever strategic planning process in April, adopting the same model as the Mound House and the Council, and using a facilitator to help guide a discussion about the future of the island's recreational campus. There will be dates set in the future for the public to participate in this process.



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