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City Council concludes strategic plan discussion

By Staff | Mar 1, 2016

City Council members finished up their discussion of the city’s strategic plan Monday as part of the scheduled regular meeting. The strategic plan report began last week with a four-hour session.

Another special workshop meeting, with the topic being the extended bar hours in South Cape, is slated for today at 4:30 p.m. at the Nicholas Annex building. The one-year experimental extension of bar hours until 4 a.m. on weekends is set to expire in April.

Discussions on renewing the bar hour program for another year began last month before the South Cape CRA Board of Commissioners. The commission approved continuing the extended hours and sent it to council for further discussion before council takes a formal vote during a regular council meeting before April 1.

Both Cape Coral Police Chief Bart Connelly and Fire Chief Donald Cochran informed council Monday that they have hired new employees over the past year to fill vacancies in their departments and bring them to near full staff.

Connelly filled 47 vacancies on his staff overall with 27 of those being new officers. He said his department now is just 12 first responders short of the number of employees needed according to a national computer formula that was recently conducted.

“We are adding to our objective for the community police collaboration initiative for the future,” said Connelly. “We lost our youth intervention program a few years back and I want to get that going again with a youth outreach program.”

He also said the department has a need for concentrating its efforts in the area of traffic safety. His reason for the effort is due to the increase of pedestrian and bicycle traffic on city bike lanes and roadways.

Cochran reported that his department is now at 99.5 percent of staffing.

“That is one person from full staff, well actually two because we had one retirement just the other day,” said Cochran.

In addition, the department upgraded its technology in the Emergency Operations Center and is determined to continue with emergency management practices.

Those initiatives were tested in January when a tornado touched down along the Beach Parkway corridor from Sands Boulevard to Pelican Boulevard.

“How do you measure our response?” Cochran said. “I measure it by the interactions with the public. Everyone was pleased with our presence and we did not have one single complaint.”

Achieving accreditation for the first time is a goal of the department in the future and Cochran believes that can be attained in about three years.

Highlights of the discussions by Public Works, Parks & Recreation, Community Development and Utilities directors include Parks Director Steve Pohlman’s goal of locating a suitable place for an amphitheater to hold future concerts and special events.

“I want to find a more appropriate place in the community to get away from Sun Splash,” said Pohlman.

Parks & Recreation currently is in the middle of writing its Master Plan for the next 10 years, which will contain a lot of new information to be added to the strategic plan.

Councilmember Rick Williams suggested the plan add a voucher program for veterans who are in need of emergency shelter. He wants the city to be committed to becoming a “veteran friendly” city.

A succession plan was suggested by Councilmember Rana Erbrick in order to identify replacements when department heads retire, either on an interim or permanent basis.

City Manager John Szerlag responded that he already works in that direction by asking directors for staff replacement recommendations. He submitted a plan to human resources for review and will make the final version available to council.

Council’s next regular weekly meeting is on Monday.