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Leetz appointed Cape rep to Regional Planning Council

By Staff | Mar 13, 2012

The Cape Coral City Council has wondered if there is any value in the Regional Planning Council for the city.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz is about to find out, by becoming a member of the council.

The council voted 7-1 Monday night to allow Leetz to fill the open seat given to Cape Coral until the end of September after the councilman volunteered to take the seat in spite of his own misgivings over whether the council holds any importance to Cape Coral.

“I’m doing nothing more than trying it out to see if it’s for us,” Leetz said.

Mayor John Sullivan cast the lone “no” vote, wondering if the $50,000 price tag for the seat would net anything for the city and if the RPC, which lost $250,000 from its budget, could do anything to help the Cape.

It was an argument Leetz has argued, and still argues.

“I supported leaving the RPC because we weren’t getting any value. That hasn’t changed,” Leetz said. “Cape Coral has been overlooked in having a free seat. Now, we have it, and I’d like it for longer.”

Leetz wasn’t alone in his leeriness over the RPC. Marty McClain said the council had become “dysfunctional,” while Kevin McGrail said “he saw no value in our involvement.”

But it was Sullivan who had the greatest reservations, not asking “What have you done for us lately?” rather “What have you ever done for us?”

“I don’t remember any grant money from the RPC. How can you get grant money from someone if you can’t get it from the state?” Sullivan asked. “I don’t want to get into that quagmire again.”

Still, Leetz went ahead and put himself up for the seat.

“There is potential benefit. You don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Leetz said, assuring the council he would represent the city the way it should.

“The committee is important enough to do it,” McClain said. “Leetz is a good fit and more vocal.”

RPC legal counsel Liz Donley assured the council the Cape’s feelings would be heard.

“There’s some value to the seat. What you get from the RPC is what you ask,” Donley said. “We’re leaner and still provide services to the region.”

Councilmember Rana Ebrick urged the council to hop on board.

“I want the council to stay involved for grant funds and other financial resources,” Erbrick said. “Will we get back what we ask for? We need someone to attend these meetings.”

The Southwest Florida RPC is an agency composed of county commissioners and other elected officials to protect natural resources and create jobs in the area, according to its web site.