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Charrette gets under way at City Hall

By Staff | Nov 6, 2015

Photos hung on the wall in the back of City Council chambers at City Hall. They were clustered in categories showing trees, housing, bridges, communal areas and the like.

In front of the dais were maps of the Northwest Cape, regarding conservation lands, future land use, etc with another map to be used for residents to pinpoint, literally where they lived.

Also, there was an easel with a blank sheet of paper.

That was the scene on the first day of a three-day charrette, where residents of the Northwest Cape, and elsewhere, gave their input on their vision of their section of Cape Coral and the Seven Islands.

The first evening drew a decent crowd as for 90 minutes, stakeholders participated in activities designed to get their creative juices flowing.

Javier Omana, vice president for land planning services for CPH Engineers, which was holding the visioning charrette, said this is the first public portion of the process.

“This is an information gathering, public participation where we ask citizens what the vision of the area should be,” Omana said. “Culling information from stakeholders takes many forms. We believe active two-way participation is key. Hence the exercises we have.”

Those exercises had participants looking at the pictures on the back wall, and placing a green sticker on what they liked, and a red sticker on what they didn’t like.

They also pinpointed their location on a map and on that once blank piece of paper, used one word to describe Northwest Cape now and in the future.

It became clear what people wanted and didn’t want. They wanted an area that utilized the water and Old Florida architecture while keeping the natural beauty of the area intact.

They didn’t want an urban area with high rise condos or cabanas, office buildings or factories.

Many of the important stakeholders and city officials came for the event. Councilmember-elect Marilyn Stout came to give her input.

“I think the Seven Islands project will be one of the brighter stars in Cape Coral, in an area where a lot of people are going to want to live,” Stout said. “I know they’re going to come back and give us what the people want.”

Councilmember Rick Williams said he was enthused, though he thought a few more people should have come.

“The people here are really getting into it, and I have high hopes. We have a lot of ideas coming from these people,” Williams said. “I think the charrette is a good idea and they’re doing a good job.”

Williams said he wants to see something the whole city could enjoy and something residents would want.

Denis Catalano, president of the Northwest Cape Neighborhood Association, said the consultants and the city were doing their due diligence.

“Most people are looking for things that are really nice. Some residential, low-rise or waterfront dining and parks. You can tell by the red dots and green dots what these people are looking for,” Catalano said.

Earlier this year, the city held a charrette for Bimini Basin. Unlike that one, where everything was done in a day, the designers had a night to sleep on it before getting up early the next morning to begin at 7 to sketch out what best exemplifies the people’s vision.

On Thursday and today, residents could come to council chambers and watch the design process take place. Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. session featured the unveiling of their initial designs based on the information that got, again getting input from the stakeholders.

Friday will bring the finalization of the concepts with a presentation at 3:30 p.m., again getting input to refine their concept.

Omana said from there, the concept will go to City Council, which will happen sometime after the new year.