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City Council not thrilled about bringing Zombicon to Cape Coral

By Staff | Dec 16, 2015

City Council members are not willing to welcome the troubled Zombicon celebration to Cape Coral with open arms just yet, mainly because the organizers have not contacted the city administration about relocating the event to this side of the Caloosahatchee River.

Even if organizers do reach out to the Cape, most council members are at the least apprehensive about the event’s present format, its size and its recent history of violence.

“I have not heard anything good about it at all,” said Councilmem-ber Rick Williams. “I’ve talked to Fort Myers council members about their reasons for discontinuing the event, so my vote is no.”

The topic was a late addition to Monday’s meeting agenda, the council’s final meeting of 2015. Due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, council is not scheduled to meet again until Jan. 11.

Councilmember Richard Leon, who spoke through media reports and social media sites promoting Zombicon relocating to Cape Coral in the days after Fort Myers voted to discontinue it in its downtown district, told fellow members they should not give such a quick rejection without having been ap-proached by Zombicon organizers at Pushing Daizies, and that Mon-day’s discussion was premature.

“We shouldn’t say no,” Leon said. “We should ask questions and get more information before making a decision. There are so many things we can do. To be limited even before a discussion takes place is, honestly, government at its worst.”

Mayor Marni Sawicki quickly blamed Leon for bringing the discussion to the council setting because of his statements to the media.

“You have yourself to thank for this discussion,” said Sawicki. “It was your promotion of the idea that brought this on, so it is a relevant conversation because of your statements.”

Councilmember Marilyn Stout said, “I’m glad they have not contacted us and I certainly hope we do not contact them either.”

Councilmember Jim Burch and others asked Cape Coral Police Chief Bart Connelly to weigh in on the subject.

“There is no area in Cape Coral that this event will fit in,” said Connelly. “There is no facility where we can contain 20,000 people entering from every direction, that much traffic. We would need a location to contain and control the entry point to check such things as backpacks and weapons. Even 47th Terrace is not appropriate. We don’t want people walking around with fake guns and knives and not knowing if they are fake. It is a very unsafe event. Why would you want to have that here?”

Staff was asked how many attended last weekend’s Bike Night event on Southeast 47th Terrace. Parks & Recreation Director Steve Pohlman informed council that it was the largest attendance ever for a December Bike Night with estimates ranging from 7,000 to 15,000 attendees.

It was suggested that the city could organize a similar family friendly event of its own, perhaps even holding it during daylight hours, if it was decided it would be beneficial to local residents like the New Year’s Eve party for teenagers.

Council did not give a formal vote up or down on the subject, but is taking a wait and see approach in the event Zombicon organizers make a proposal to the Cape.

In other business:

– City staff will move forward with a proposal to shift the burden of maintaining some 3,000 gopher turtle and burrowing owl nesting sites off the volunteers with the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife over to the city’s vacant lot mowing contract. After several meetings between staff and a group of stakeholders came the recommendation to continue protecting area wildlife as the city continues toward build-out.

Staff recommends vacant lot mowers hand trim the nesting sites as they make their rounds of the city’s 54,000 parcels seven times per year.

Council directed staff to create a Request For Proposal (RFP) to determine the additional cost so it can be included in the mowing contract for the next budget cycle.

– Council unanimously approved economic incentive programs offered for the Westin Resort conference center project and the launch of MobilMAX sales and manufacturing operations in Cape Coral by the parent company based in Taiwan.

The approval earmarks $200,000 from the city’s Economic Reserve Fund to repave Pelican Boulevard from Cape Coral Parkway to El Dorado Parkway once the conference center is completed. The city will spend an additional $46,000 to bring MobilMAX to the city to create 30 new jobs initially. Success of the company could add another 200 jobs over the next five years as the manufacturing facility becomes viable.

– City staff has completed Phase 1 of its initiative to remove the Chiquita boat lock after working closely with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, consultants and engineers on the permitting methodology.

A network of data collection equipment was installed to monitor water quality on both sides of the lock. Those monitors were ineffective during this summer’s rainy season causing a six-month delay in the process through another rainy season.

When the necessary data is collected and interpreted, staff then will work its permit application to the DEP so the lock could be removed in January 2017.