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Rowing club eyes NFM property on river

May 17, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Imagine a place where people of all ages can row their boats along the Caloosahatchee River in a state-of-the-art facility that not only teaches the sport, but also gets you in great shape.

That is what Stefan Sztancsa, coach at the Caloosa Coast Rowing Club, told members of the North Fort Myers Civic Association last week at its monthly meeting at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center.

Currently, the Caloosa Coast Rowing Club, a non-profit 501c3 organization, operates out of Cape Harbour in Cape Coral, and has done so since its inception in 2007.

Article Photos

Caloosa Coast Rowing Club team members practice this past summer. The club operates out of Cape Harbour in Cape Coral, and has done so since its inception in 2007.


Sztancsa said it is unknown how long he will be able to stay there and coach the hundreds of kids and adults with whom he works.

The idea is to move the existing club to an area along the Caloosahatchee River on North Tamiami Trail at the same location where an appliance store currently sits and where a proposed boat ramp will be located.

It is there that a smaller version of a physical activity center would be built, featuring indoor rowing equipment as well as other workout machinery. The hope is to expand further.

"We hope we can expand that area and bring in more people for physical activity," Sztancsa said. "Currently, our club works out of borrowed land that was just purchased and there's a chance we will be kicked out, perhaps in the next couple years."

Sztancsa said the new location would be closer to the schools, as opposed to their more isolated current location, which could bring in more people.

Sztancsa called the facility the North Fort Myers PEACH, which means Physical Education Activity Center for Health. The facility would house running, dancing, yoga and other things. It would also promote the sports of rowing and kayaking. He added that he would bring in fitness experts as guest speakers to talk about eating well and maintaining good habits.

Members of the civic association seemed to like the idea. President Michael Land said it would be a nice addition to North Fort Myers if the relocation plan reaches fruition.

"The problem is they need funding. It would be very picturesque, though," Land said.

"I think the idea is fantastic and the thought of rowing on the Caloosahatchee would be a definite positive. It would be a step up as to the vision of North Fort Myers," vice president Rudy Berndlmaier said.

Another interesting proposal came from Land toward the end of the meeting, and though it was shot down, it did constitute outside-the-box thinking.

Land proposed area leaders look into changing the name of North Fort Myers as a way to help the area carve out its own identity.

"Nobody seemed to like it except me. I think it's dynamite. We're going nowhere with this name. What do we have to lose?" Land said.

"The question is what comes first. The changing of the name or the development of North Fort Myers then changing the name," Berndlmaier said.

Land said West Fort Lauderdale years ago changed its name to Weston, which turned out to be a huge plus for the area.

The civic association will also sponsor a couple events in the month of June. On June 2, there will be a cocktail party at the Shell Factory in the Dolphin Room on June 2, and on June 20 it will host two hurricane seminars at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the rec center.



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