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Vacation of right-of-way in Bimini Basin area OK’d

By Staff | Jul 26, 2016

Bimini Basin might have a starting point after all.

While the city currently is making changes to land use and zoning district designations for large scale development and redevelopment in the project area, the owner of vacant parcels west of Sunset Towers on Cape Coral Parkway had a roadblock for development removed by City Council Monday night when it voted to vacate the right-of-way known as Pine Tree Court.

Vacation of the roadway now merges two 5-acre parcels and opens the door for a larger scale project for owner Mark Carrocce and developer Dan Creighton. The two promised a “Class A” development.

Not showing any specific plans for the site almost cost Carrocce his request as city staff and some on council were unwilling to approve the right-of-way vacation without it.

“We’re talking about an experimental project,” said Council-member Jim Burch. “This is not the right time. You have shown us no drawings, no renditions. It’s right on the basin so if we screw this up, it might ruin the entire Bimini Basin area. I am not one to vote on a leap of faith.”

Burch sided with City Manager John Szerlag, who told council it is staff’s recommendation to deny the request without a specific development plan.

When it came time to vote, Councilmember John Carioscia cast a dissenting vote alongside Burch.

Mayor Marni Retzer and Councilmember Rana Erbrick were willing to grant Carrocce some latitude.

“Why not start (Bimini) there,” said Erbrick.

Retzer, who has taken some heat in public for her role in leading the project, countered that it is not her project. The city does not control development on private property.

“I’m a little concerned about the lack of a specific development, but I will put my trust in Mr. Carrocce and Mr. Creighton,” Retzer said.

Councilmember Rick Williams agreed, saying, “Let’s get started and get something going down there.”

Other items approved

Council approved a resolution brought to its attention by the Golf Course Advisory Board seeking $50,000 in special project funding to improve conditions and guest safety issues at Coral Oaks Golf Course.

The board and course manager Allen Manguson proposed expanding the tee boxes and drainage on two holes to promote a healthier turf, as well as tree trimming and removal. No major renovations have been done at the course since damage repairs were made after Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Manguson said the project could be completed by the end of September.

Council agreed to continue with assembling Festival Park in Northwest Cape among other council priority projects. Members believed a preliminary layout of the park would be helpful in planning, specifically regarding the location of the proposed amphitheater.

LED lighting at Cape Coral Sports Complex and upgrades to BMX Park also were given the go-ahead by council. Cultural Park Theater renovations and a $10,000 starting budget for a veterans homeless voucher program also will move forward.

Council meets again next Monday at City Hall.