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Cape council discusses possible capital projects

By Staff | Jun 15, 2016

Cape Coral City Council took a look at several capital projects in the Parks & Recreation, Public Works and General Fund areas during a special workshop Friday.

Everything discussed will come back to council for a vote at a regular meeting, either as individual resolutions or as budget items since the workshop meetings are non-voting sessions.

BMX Park improvements, neighborhood parks, Festival Park with an amphitheater, small sporting arena, median landscaping, traffic calming measures and traffic signal control devices for emergency vehicles all were mentioned.

Council targeted several projects to be funded out of the council’s special reserves that was generated primarily by settlements of lawsuits with local utilities over relocation costs during major roadway projects on Del Prado Boulevard and Pine Island Road. Among those are upgrades to the starting gate and sun shade canopy at BMX Park, a voucher program to help homeless military veterans, LED lighting at Cape Coral Sports Complex and median landscaping.

Several projects will be addressed in the Parks Master Plan, which is expected to be completed by November. Parks Director Steve Pohlman told the members that it will cost $6 million for the amphitheater at Festival Park and another $6 million to run utilities to the park.

Mayor Marni Sawicki and Councilmember Rana Erbrick had more conservative opinions on the project, proposing grass and a berm instead of a costly state-of-the-art facility.

“Let’s get it going with a berm and see how it grows from there,” said Erbrick. “Other venues in the area bring in portable toilets.”

Pohlman agreed that it’s too early in the process without a master site plan to best locate an amphitheater at the park, but a mound of dirt can always be moved. He added that acquisition costs, capital costs and operation cost figures for the Parks Master Plan will be available in about 45 days.

“At other venues the parking proceeds alone pay for the facility,” said Sawicki.

Council members agreed by consensus to continue the $6.5 million roadway repaving schedule for the foreseeable future as well as drawing up a traffic calming program document to address citizen complaints about excessive speeding or otherwise unsafe roadways. The cost of a traffic calming program being implemented is estimated at $700,000 per year, which would be fully funded by the city or through an assessment on residents.

The city’s roadway repaving project is over and above the repaving that takes place during the Utilities Expansion Project (UEP), which is funded by special assessment to residents.

Fire Chief Donald Cochran presented a program to install electronic devices at more than 50 intersections throughout the city that would enhance response times for fire and police emergency vehicles. He proposed spending $95,000 a year over the next 10 years to acquire and install the system as early as the 2019 Fiscal Year budget. However, if the project qualifies to be funded from the Fire Services Assessment it could be installed sooner with a significant savings by a one-time payment.

Cochran also said his department is looking into getting state or federal matching grants to fund the project and said he would bring options back to council at a later date.