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Return to resident CRA oversight mulled

By Staff | Apr 24, 2015

Acting at Community Redevelopment Agency commissioners, Cape Coral City Council members discussed ending their dual roles and turning their CRA duties back to a board made up of citizens at Tuesday’s regular meeting at the Chester Street Resource Center.

Commissioner John Carioscia’s suggestion met with mixed results among the other members, particularly board chair Rana Erbrick.

“Taking over as chair has added 30 meetings a year to my agenda,” said Erbrick. “I’m not complaining. I accepted that and I’m OK with that. I’d like to see us hire a dedicated executive director to form a working relationship with city staff. Even our Economic Development Director Dana Brunett could serve that role to bridge the gap until a permanent director comes on board.”

Council members became the CRA board some two years ago when they decided to assume oversight control to save money.

Commissioner Jim Burch supports a CRA board independent of the City Council.

“I prefer to put it out as a citizens board, but now is not the time to do that,” he said. “I’d like to see a professional executive director with experience to run the CRA. When the time is right put a new board in place and not just move the Advisory Board up.”

Commissioner Richard Leon sided with Burch, adding the CRA first should form the proposed second Mid-Cape CRA district before putting a new board in place.

Now that a formal discussion has surfaced, Carioscia suggested fellow members think about it and bring recommendations to an undetermined future workshop session.

The CRA board also approved funding for 11 festivals and events in South Cape for 2016. The board will hand out $35,000 in grants to groups organizing events like the Festival of the Arts, Cardboard Boat Regatta, Holiday Festival of Lights, Bike Night, and Red, White & Boom.

Leon said while he supports the events themselves he renewed his objections to the CRA handing out money to the organizers.

“I think the money could be spent better on infrastructure, pavers and such, rather than events,” Leon said. “There is going to come a point in time when the CRA is not there. Organizations should seek other funding sources.”

Leon cast the lone dissenting vote in a 6-1 vote.

When two development projects approached the CRA Advisory Board for approval before going through the regular Planning & Zoning process, the commissioners decided they did not want to come between the developers and the P&Z. Tuesday night, the board formally voted unanimously that projects go through the normal process of P&Z and City Council rather than to the CRA, and city staff only needs to notify the CRA board that a project has applied to the city