Fort Myers close to regaining ownership of City of Palms Park

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein

Leaders are in a renewed back-and-forth over a baseball stadium — once the spring training home to the Boston Red Sox.

The City of Fort Myers is one step closer to owning City of Palms Park again. As of Wednesday, both the county and the city are on the same page to move forward with Fort Myers regaining ownership of the ballpark.

“The City of Palms Park is really one of the icons, historic,” Councilman Liston Bochette said. “And while it’s not that old, it’s really part of the culture.”

In the early 2000s, Fort Myers transferred ownership of the park to Lee County in an effort to take the financial burden off taxpayers.

But the maintenance picked up by the county didn’t come cheap, not according to Commissioner Brian Hamman.

“That maintenance costs about a half a million dollars a year,” Hamman said.

That is why the county recently and happily agreed to get the park off its hands and demolish it at the city’s request.

But we reported that demolition is on hold because the city wants the park back intact.

Bochette told us the city brought in the big guns ahead of demolition.

“We had the former managing director of the former U.S Olympic Committee, one of the top authorities in the world,” Bochette said.

He and Bochette believe the park could still bring in big dollars, offsetting big costs if it’s renovated into a multi-use complex for soccer, lacrosse, football and other events such as dog shows.

“The best thing to do to relieve the taxpayers of the half million dollars is a year is to give this back to the City of Fort Myers and let them decide what to do with it,” Hamman said.

While Bochette believes the multi-use complex would produce money and breathe new life in the midtown area of Fort Myers, he said nothing is off the table. If the city decides to demolish City of Palms Park, the county will pay for it within the next year.

It also looks like FSW is set to play another full season at the park.

Lee County Board of County Commissioners will vote to return the park to Fort Myers Tuesday.

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