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Public outrage to UEP may push city to beef up security

By Staff | Jul 10, 2009

After a series of combative meetings in the past two weeks on the utilities expansion project, the Cape Coral City Council will consider using a metal detector during a public hearing on the UEP next week.
Councilmember Bill Deile brought up the idea of using the metal detector after the boisterous uproar and protests at recent UEP meetings.
“They’ve been very contentious. If we have the equipment, it would be prudent to discuss using it,” he said.
About 100 people walked out of an informational meeting to discuss payment options on the Southwest 6/7 portion of the UEP on June 30 after being told there would be no discussion of the project itself.
The scene was repeated Tuesday as residents shouted obscenities at city staffers who attempted to explain payment options on the North 1-8 phase of the project.
Residents in North 1-8 face assessments and fees averaging $6,000 for water utilities, and homeowners in SW 6/7 are looking at assessments and fees averaging $17,000 for water, sewer and irrigation utilities.
Many residents in the areas said they cannot afford the assessments and will likely leave their home because of the added cost, even though payment options allow property owners to postpone or defer payments for several years.
The heated reaction led Deile to ask about using the metal detector.
“Some people have voiced a concern to me, based on what happened at these other meetings, that somebody may get violent,” he said.
The metal detector is currently in use outside the Cape Coral Police Department, but could be transported and used at the city council’s special meeting on the UEP.
The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Cape Coral, located at 4117 Coronado Parkway.
Although the meeting was originally scheduled to take place in council chambers, the large crowds at the UEP meetings this week prompted the need for a larger venue.
“One thing I would never want to do is shut people out of council chambers,” Councilmember Dolores Bertolini said.
The church’s capacity, which can seat 1,400 or more, is more than triple that of council chambers, which can hold about 250 to 300 people.
Council members will hold a closed-door meeting Monday to discuss security measures at the Tuesday meeting.