After being dug some 50 years ago by the Rosen Brothers….the Bimini Basin continues to weave its magic over the downtown Cape Coral waterways and into the hearts of the downtown commerce by boaters now for generations. What is it and exactly where is it? Read more…..
In the late 1950’s, Cape Coral was just a dream on paper. By the middle of the 1960’s Cape Coral was home to some of the largest dirt movers and steam operated dredges in the world. The purpose….turn the mangrove swamp into live able land use, and create over 450 miles of both gulf access and freshwater canals and waterways to form a waterfront city. One of the projects of Leonard Rosen was the creation of a water front basin near the downtown area as a water front park. That park would hold an amphitheater…a recreation/day care center…playground equipment…parking lot…and a yacht basin! It’s name would be the “Bimini Basin”, named after the “Bimini Canal” which ended at a basin.
The grassy amphitheater was constructed in order to show evening outdoor movies, and also serve as a gathering place for events and speakers such as builders trying to sell their model homes to newly arrived visitors to Cape Coral. The recreation center mainly was intended as a day care facility, thus the need for playground equipment. Back in that day, residents of the small Cape Coral town had to travel to Ft. Myers for entertainment…and the Bimini Basin changed all that. The basin itself was intended to be a gathering place for local boaters to come use the man-made beach for picnic’s and meeting fellow boaters for the day.
Then it happened, and quite by accident, and never an intended use for boaters…it became a transient boaters lay-over stop. Since the basin sat at the western edge of the city at the south end of Palm Tree Blvd. along Cape Coral Parkway, it was a natural stop-over for boaters coming from either the west to east or visa versa east to west coasts of the state. Its anchorage was soft mud, protected from the winds on 3 sides, and offered a quiet 400 acre anchorage. An easy walk into downtown gave these travelling boaters access to fresh food, fuel, entertainment, boat repairs, etc. The usage of the basin found its way into almost every “gunkholers” books published about the intercoastal waterway for many years to come.
Fast forward some 40 years, and the downtown area is all grown up now. Now enter the problems and issues facing us today, for the basin. To many transient boaters using the basin for lay-overs…no sewage pump out stations for boats, no mooring fields with fixed tie ups to protect the sea beds, boats left at anchor for month’s at a time…[more like a storage facility], and no real trash removal system. The ampi-theatre is gone, the recreation center is past its age, and the playground to small.
Enter a new plan! Convert the entire area to an entertainment and public use venue. Build a 300 ft. long dock with shops and stores along its boardwalk, put a round building at the end for a restaurant, and add mooring fields for boaters. The mooring fields would accomodate about 18 boats of 35 ft. in size, and another 15 boats of 45 or larger size. There would be a rental fee of course, plus a sewage pump out station that would also be a cost for the boaters. Four Freedoms park will remain and be expanded. The idea is to bring people back into the downtown area.
I believe its time for this conversion to happen, and add more entertainment areas withing our downtown corridor. While bus friendly for most, some would enjoy the walk from downtown. For 30 years the Bimini basin has been the starting place for the Cape Coral Christmas boat parade, and I think it should stay that way forever. Its time to dedicate more space to public enjoyment, rather than let it become converted to commerce and business use. Its all about the added quality of life that it can bring for many generations to come.