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Proposed canoe, kayak training complex moves ahead

By Staff | Feb 11, 2015

City Council voted unanimously Monday night to advance the South Florida Kayak & Canoe Club’s proposed athletic training complex project on city-owned property located on Lake Kennedy.

All eight council members like the project and believe the complex will be a good endeavor for the city. The $22.5 million complex is expected to inject more than $8.6 million new dollars into the local economy and more than $341,000 in Lee County tax revenue each year.

While club representative Joe Mazurkiewicz was prepared to present the project to council as a Public-Private Partnership (P3) proposal, city staff came up with four options for council to proceed. Rather than the P3, council chose the option to simply lease the land to the club, which then would be responsible to design, build, maintain and operate the complex. The project is fully privately funded, said Mazurkiewicz. The city will not be required to procure any goods, financing or services for the project.

“The reason we are here tonight is we need a public vote that you want this project,” said Mazurkiewicz, president of BMJ Consulting and executive director of the Cape Coral Council For Progress.

The project includes a world class competitive training facility and athletic dormitory offering sprint, paddle sports and performance training with video analysis.

The club already operates under a lease agreement with the city, but the complex requires a much larger footprint on the city property making it necessary for the city to draw up a new lease agreement to assure the city’s interests are protected.

With Monday’s vote, staff will meet with a real estate consultant to begin writing that lease.

Councilmember Derrick Donnell raised his concern that none of the residents near the project were at the meeting to give their opinion. Neighbors voiced opposition once before when the city extended the club its current lease.

Staff assured that the public would have plenty of opportunity to come forward through public hearings throughout the process before any final vote is taken.

Two developments OK’d

Council voted unanimously to approve two major developments planned in the city. The most notable is the construction of a Walmart Neighborhood Market on just over 5 acres located in a much larger project known as Cape Coral Marketplace on Pine Island Road just east of Hibiscus Drive.

The ordinance approved subdivides the commercial zoned property into seven parcels to be developed to also possibly include an automotive service and repair business, convenience store, fuel pump station and other retail business office projects.

Council approval came with a condition that the developers would be responsible for demolition of any above ground structures not completed as well as any associated infrastructure.

Developers agreed and said they expect to break ground in June.

The second development approved, known as Burnt Store Center, is located on Burnt Store Road at Tropicana Parkway. A 7-Eleven convenience store with fuel pumps and a car wash occupies a 3-acre parcel of the property subdivided into a total of three parcels, the largest of which is 4.5 acres. At this time no new project is planned for the open parcel.

Employee classification

Council further discussed the employee classification and compensation study Monday and settled on the study’s methodology to complete it. The city is paying the consulting firm Segal Waters $60,000 to complete the study. The firm routinely analyzes about 25 percent of job classifications they initiate, while the city already has sampled 27 percentage of its job classes.

Human Resources Director Lisa Sonego told council that to analyze every classification and every position, as some on council desired, would cost the city an additional $80,000 for Segal Waters. That also would further delay the completion of the study.

A Segal Waters representative told council there would be no real benefit gained from the additional expenditure analysis.

“It makes no sense to me to spend $80,000 just to spend it,” said Councilmember Jim Burch. “As long as the study covers all departments, classifications and levels, I’m good with the benchmarking.”

“We are looking at every position with every employee filling out a job questionnaire,” said interim Assistant City Manager Mike Ilczyszyn. “When we get that data that’s our classifications. We use benchmarking to establish the wage ranges.”

Council voted 6-2 to stay with the original consulting fee agreement with benchmarking practices. The dissenting votes were cast by Mayor Marni Sawicki and Councilmember Richard Leon.

Ilczyszyn assured the members that the study is on track for reporting at the June 15 meeting.

More sidewalks

Finally, the city approved another Local Agency Program agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to fund installation of sidewalks on both sides of Cape Coral Parkway from Agualinda Boulevard to Southwest 29th Avenue.

Cost of construction, expected to begin in a few months, is estimated at $402,000 and would complete Cape Coral Parkway sidewalking. The city currently is installing sidewalks along Chiquita Boulevard south from Gleason Parkway.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled Monday, Feb. 23. There is no meeting next Monday in observance of Presidents’ Day.