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CRA seeking to create hospitality board in area

By Staff | Jun 17, 2009

The Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency is looking to form a hospitality board that will bring downtown bar owners and law enforcement officials together to work toward a better way to manage and police the area.
In recent months, several downtown bar owners have alleged that a heavy police presence in the area is hurting business at the worst possible economic time.
CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen said the new board will attempt to create a more cooperative tone between all parties and help the CRA craft policies that simultaneously promote business and keep the peace. It will also help foster a “new economy” in the Cape.
“This whole 9 to 5 economy — 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. — is a new economy that requires different training,” he said.
Meanwhile, some bar owners and residents are seething over what they see as harassment.
Downtown Cape resident Sam Hubert said he has been needlessly pulled over and harassed by police in recent weeks.
“I can’t get my friends to come visit me at home. As they say it’s a $2 toll charge and a $2,000 DUI. In my opinion I think it’s hurting some of the local businesses here,” he said.
Jacobsen noted that business owners in downtown Fort Myers have similar complaints.
“The Fort Myers bar owners said the police were chasing their customers to Cape Coral,” he said.
Andrew Gray, owner of Rack and Billiards in downtown Cape Coral, said a visible police presence in the area is a double-edged sword.
“I think it’s a little bit excessive, but I don’t want my nephews getting run over by a drunk driver either,” he said.