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Staff maps out future of city-owned property

By Staff | Jul 31, 2013

City staff gave a presentation to the Cape Coral City Council Monday regarding the land the city owns, especially the parcels the city bought last year in a $13 million deal with money from stormwater and utility expansion funds.

In his presentation, city Business Manager Michael Ilczyszyn gave an inventory of city-owned properties and an analysis of how the city should treat them and what they can be used for, whether they be for fire stations or filter marshes or sold as one big parcel.

Besides needs for righta of way and parks, which was one reason City Council rejected the proposed sale of land to Miceli’s Restaurant in Matlacha last week, there are also needs for lift stations, filter marshes and reservoirs to serve the north Cape.

Councilmember Kevin McGrail said the millions the city will get from the property may not be from sales, but rather from the best use of the property for the city so it doesn’t have to buy more property in the future.

“We’ve been able to pinpoint areas that if we reserve those properties for pump stations and lift stations now, it would save the city millions going into the future,” McGrail said.

The city has sent a letter to the Deltona Corp., which owns numerous parcels that have been identified as ideal pump station areas that the city might be willing to do a land swap for.

Another big land owner, the Zemel Family Trust, also owns large tracts to the north.

One of those properties was a large tract between Burnt Store and Old Burnt Store roads, which McGrail identified previously as the perfect place for a fresh-water reservoir.

McGrail said City Manager John Szerlag has tasked city staff to put out a 60- to 90-day RFP process on what it would take to utilize that area for a reservoir or filter marsh.

The problem, the land isn’t along Gator Slough, which could mean having to separate the filter marsh, McGrail said.

The city could swap land so it could obtain desirable, rural property north of Festival Park that is closer to the slough and would allow for a reservoir and filter marsh on the same land.

Another idea in the presentation was for the city to strap the 50-60 properties together along Crystal Lake so if it gets sold to a developer as excess land, it would be sold as a parcel. This would give the developer the ability to put in a large structure, as it also owns a large parcel.

That would also go for land such as Seven Islands in Matlacha and the property Miceli’s tried to buy. Although, the city may used it for parks.

“It’s more beneficial for the city and any future owners to strap them together into a large parcel so if it’s declared surplus, there would be more leeway on how it’s developed,” McGrail said.

So while many have criticized the City Council for the purchase, including another council member, McGrail is confident the city was the recipient of “the great bargain.”

“There is no doubt that the $13.4 million investment in those Timan properties will be paid for many times over,” McGrail said.