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Electronic billboard, who should pay Regional Planning Council fee among council discussion items

By Staff | Sep 17, 2013

There were only a handful of items for the city council to consider during its regular meeting Monday at city hall. Consequently, the meeting didn’t last much longer than 90 minutes.

But there will be much to discuss in future meetings, such as an offer to the city to have an electronic message center at the city’s gateway and whether to continue holding a seat on a regional board, especially if the city has to foot the bill.

The electronic message center, which is similar to a billboard, would be donated by Lamar, a billboard company,for the city to promote future city events, and would replace the banners currently on the corner of Veterans and Del Prado boulevards, according to Joe Mazurkewicz, former Cape Coral mayor and chief proponent of the proposal.

Mazurkewicz spoke of the Lamar offer during public input, and council agreed to have further discussion on the matter at its Oct. 7 meeting.

“It’s an entrance feature based on the archway on north Del Prado near 41. It will resemble that,” Mazurkewicz said. “It’s more than billboard.”

The structures would be donated by Lamar, which would also pay an annual fee for use of its right of way. Lamar would recoup those funds by allowing private businesses to use the message board for advertising.

Specifics have not been discussed.

In other business, Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz asked direction from council regarding the city’s future in the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council.

The main issue for Chulakes-Leetz is who will pay the amount Cape Coral will have to pay, which has been $48,000 a year until Cape Coral earned the free seat last year after Sanibel had it for nearly a decade.

The four other counties on the RPC, Collier, Hendry, Charlotte and Sarasota, have their annual dues paid by the counties. Only Lee County has the incorporated municipalities (Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel and Bonita Springs) pay the county so it can pay the RPC, Chulakes-Leetz said, who will be at the RPC meeting Thursday to discuss that topic.

“From there, the Board of County Commissioners will get the input they need to rectify a decade-old defect,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “I hope the other mayors will talk to its staff and take a position.”

Chulakes-Leetz had the backing of council.

“Anytime you can save your taxpayers dollars, you want to take advantage of that. If we can get Lee County to recognize the importance of just it that way instead of this extra step, it’s a good thing,” Councilmember Rana Erbrick said.

In other business, the city council passed five consent items unanimously, three of them regarding law enforcement issues.

The others were to approve the Selection Advisory Committee’s ranking of the stormwater Master Plan firms, and to approve credit card processing services by Bank of America.