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McClain sees positive things ahead for CRA

By Staff | Nov 7, 2009

By DREW WINCHESTER, dwinchester@breezenewspapers.co
For incoming council member Kenneth “Marty” McClain, his hope for Cape Coral could be summed up with his ideology for the Community Redevelopment Agency’s district.
He has nothing but positivity for the often criticized CRA, because he thinks that it could, and will, recapture the identity as the gateway to not only South Cape, but the entire city.
Its an approach similar to one he saw in his hometown of Indianapolis 25 years ago.
As city leaders in Indiana’s capital began working toward their goal of creating the “Great American City,” it began simply enough: with a vision of how they wanted their city to develop.
For McClain, his vision of the CRA, and maybe for all of Cape Coral, is to reestablish the city as a thriving, vital leader in Southwest Florida; so when people conjure images of Lee County they see more than just Fort Myers.
“We need to create our own personality,” McClain said on Friday while sipping iced tea at Cape Dog and Deli. “We’re the third largest city in Florida, we have the ninth largest population — we need remind people of what brought them down here in the first place.”
Like the three other new faces on city council who will be take the oath of office on Monday, McClain is under no false pretense of the job that lays ahead.
Putting people back to work by getting shovels in the ground, encouraging development by streamlining the permitting process, controlling that development with a long range plan; it’s merely scratching the surface of McClain’s own vision, but he knows it will start by rebuilding trust between the council and its citizens.
Part of that struggle, too, will be bringing people back who are disillusioned, or inspiring those who would otherwise not care.
“People are under the impression that it doesn’t matter, when instead it’s pivotal,” McClain said of civic involvement. “We want people with fresh ideas, with positivity to come before the dais … there’s been such a large degree of negativity, but I think, hopefully, we’ve passed that. Trust has to come back. So little time is spent on positive things.”
To call McClain a reluctant politician is a bit misleading, but he admitted he never thought he would end up being one.
He thanked all the organizations, unions, and supporters that helped him to achieve the position, along with his wife Lisa, who he said was a key supporter. Through the campaign process McClain jokingly added she picked up a vast amount political knowledge as a side effect.
McClain is now poised to help stall what he sees as a severe disconnect; a disconnect between council and residents, between council and city staff, between city staff and the right information that council needs to make important decision.
“The council needs to understand. If they don’t get the complete information or understanding, it’s difficult to make a decision,” he said.
As the Cape begins looking, and moving, forward, the younger citizens will undoubtedly play a pivotal role, according to McClain.
Engaging the younger people of Cape Coral will be essential, McClain said, if those visions of a rebuilt, reestablished city are to become a reality.
“If people were to organize … you’d be amazed at what young people would do,” he said. “Moving forward needs to be done with young people in mind.”