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CRA hoping for help with park project

By Staff | Aug 16, 2011

The Community Redevelopment Agency board still wants to build a park along the Malaga Canal but they’re hoping for a public-private partnership, or a corporate sponsor, to help offset the cost of the new park in Cape Coral’s downtown.

The property is currently being used by Hypower, the company working to underground transmission lines along Southeast 47th Lane, and is expected to vacate the land in December once work is completed.

Hypower will plant grass seed on the property once they finally pack up shop, but after that, the CRA is still wondering how to proceed with making the park a viable project for the community to enjoy.

Stopping unwanted parking, and installing irrigation, are the bare minimums the board are working toward but beyond that, much remains unclear.

“The challenge we have right now is once Hypower is gone and they hydro-seed that property, it can fall back into what it was before or we can protect it,” said CRA Chair Don Heisler.

Heisler said the city and the CRA previously purchased the land jointly, although the city remains the owner of record of the property.

Heisler added that the CRA spent $200,000 to help the city with the purchase and he doesn’t want to see it return to being a “dusty field”.

“My intention was for it to be a minimalist situation we can get it moving and improve on the project later,” Heisler added.

Board member Jim Martin thought the CRA should ask the Chamber of Commerce to help sponsor the park, since the CRA regularly helps to fund some of their special projects in the CRA.

While it wasn’t clear if the Chamber would be willing to fill that role, Board member Lou Simmons felt someone in the community would step up to aid the CRA.

“I don’t think a park like this should be all of our responsibility there is material and things we have access to we haven’t drawn on yet,” Simmons said.

The board instructed staff to pursue working on an interlocal agreement with the city to operate the park, and to look for additional funding.

The CRA is also working on $30,000 worth of grants to help fund park renovations.

In other news, the CRA pledged $1,000 to the Invest in America Veterans Foundation to help fund their first Labor Day concert scheduled for the parking lot of the former Sweetbay supermarket. The foundation also hopes to build a museum inside the former grocery store.

The “Labor Day Musical Kick Off” is set for Saturday, Sept 3, and will feature music performed by Ralph Santillo, Cultural Park Theater Director Michael Moran and a Neil Diamond cover singer.

Veterans Foundation President Santillo said the festival also is an opportunity to get out and see the neighborhood. He hopes surrounding businesses will offer incentives to get people in their shops, stores and restaurants.

“The idea is to park your car and take a walk around the neighborhood,” Santillo said.

In other action, the CRA board pledged $6,000 to the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department for sponsorship of six events, including four Bike Nights, the Veterans Day Parade and the Holiday Boat Along.

Special Events Coordinator Todd King said the Bike Nights are highly successful because they’re becoming known as family friendly events.

“The premier event is the city’s bike night,” King said. “It is one of the most well attended family friendly biker events throughout Florida.”

The CRA board also pushed back updates on the new Walgreens at the corner of Cape Coral Parkway and Coronado.