Election 2017 Question of the Week: SE 47th Terrace Streetscape project
Each week through the General Election, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. As you review the races, please note that Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections. This means all registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.
The 13th Question of the Week is: What do you think of the ‘streetscape’ plan for Southeast 47th Terrace, currently estimated to cost about $13 million? Any components you would add or delete?
– Joe Coviello: The streetscape plan is designed to make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly and appealing. Several areas still need discussion with the business owners and residents. These areas include street parking, furniture selection, roundabout at the intersection of 47th and Vincennes, selection of street lighting, landscaping and the color/style of pavers. Studies show street parking could be absorbed by the surrounding parking lots. However, we need to take into consideration what the local merchants feel is important to their business. Once we reach a consensus we need to move this project forward and efficiently utilize funding to minimize cost.
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– Michael D. Hollow: I think the streetscape project is a good idea in trying to revitalize that area. However, that’s step one, what are the rest of the projects plans to ensure we are attracting and sustaining business in this area? As a business leader, I see the larger picture. There are a few areas we could actually improve and save money at the same time. We have to be unique in our efforts, because we can’t compete with the Downtowns of Fort Myers and Punta Gorda (they built around water).
– John Gunter: First, I would like to state that I am for this project. With that being said, I do feel there are some issues that we need to address further. I have been door to door in the business district recently and just about everyone is concerned with the parking issue. If we spend money to enhance this area to attract more people to our city, then we have to provide adequate parking. Parking is VITAL for the success of this project. Also I am not totally sold on the ideal of a roundabout. Aesthetically I think it would look nice, but do we actually need it. If we were evaluating the cost, and trying to determine where we could save money, this would be the first place I would look. I would recommend that we reanalyze our design to make sure it best fits the “needs” and “wants” of the project, get more input from the stakeholders in the area, to ensure we get this project completed right the first time.
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– Graham Madison Morris: Conceptually, I like the idea of such improvement occurring in our city’s downtown. Fiscally and financially, I have reservations about strapping down both the CRA and the city at-large to such a sizeable expenditure. I will reiterate here, after the various interactions that have followed the presentations of these plans where misunderstanding and even outrage are apparent, that a prime focus must be returned to the area of city-to-citizen communications overall on any proposed project such as this. Any net loss of parking downtown, because of future event and businesses’ on-street parking, requires more in-depth discussions for cure or compromise as it is clearly where the greatest divide exists at this stage of the proposal.
– Richard Leon (Incumbent): I am excited that we are working towards building an upgraded infrastructure in South Cape. The funding coming for this is directly from the tax base in that area and can only be spent in the Community Redevelopment Agency. Southeast 47th Terrace has been a main hub for events throughout the year and this will allow for an improved atmosphere for residents and tourists when partaking in events, dining and visiting our retail locations there. The City is still in the final design phase and there may be some opportunities to readdress some parking issues that have come up with some of the businesses.
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– Jennifer I. Nelson: I support the beautification streetscape plan for 47th Terrace as this improves the quality of life for residents and visitors. We have many Europeans who visit us annually where walking, downtown centrums are part of their culture. I recommend we consider having an outside transport company contract with the city to provide transportation to the shops and restaurants from the various parking areas. We could have various “stops” along the street that pick people up and drop them off like what I have seen at Health Park. This would mitigate the parking concerns with business owners and allow the city time to plan a parking structure for the future.
– James Schneider: The long awaited plans which were recently unveiled look appealing, but I have concerns with the redistribution of parking near businesses who are the run-in, run-out type, versus bars and restaurants which patrons will park and walk further to. The streetscape and the roundabout are appealing. Something missing is an opportunity for public art and lush tropical plantings. The $12 million cost is high, but we must consider the expense for infrastructure you don’t see under the streets and the brickwork. We want a vibrant downtown finished, so we can concentrate on the northern quadrants and their residents.
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– Dave Stokes:Originally this project was estimated to cost $8.5 million dollars and now is up to $13 million dollars. I would take a hard look at how this project had such a dramatic price increase and examine the details of the costs. Many business owners, including some city founders, are very concerned about the complete loss of 119 parking spaces and the long walks their customers (especially the elderly and disabled) would have to continue to patronize their businesses. The final detail that I would examine would be the need and the cost of placing a roundabout on 47th Terrace.
– John Karcher: I attended the meeting and heard comments from the city, the residents, and business owners. I think that that CRA had the right idea, but may have needed more local input.
The City Manager stated that William Corbett, the city’s traffic engineer, would address the concern of having 41 less parking spots, which includes street parking being removed. The loss of close parking is a main concern to the restaurant and some club owners.
Visually impaired residents have concerns with crossing roundabout i.e.; sound notifications at crosswalks etc.
Hopefully the City will address these concerns before the plans are finalized.
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– Rick Williams (Incumbent): I’m in favor of upgrades in this area but would have preferred a less intense and less costly project. I don’t like us borrowing money for this, as large loan repayments will limit the Community Redevelopment Agency’s ability to do future projects. I would have preferred this project be done in sections over a few years to eliminate the borrowing.
I’m also concerned that the project will reduce parking spaces on 47th Terrace, which will reduce customer parking for those businesses-a very real issue for them.
I have consistently voted against this project, but most of the expensive design and engineering have already been done. Modifying the scope and lowering its cost now are more challenging.
– GENERAL, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
* Voter Registration Book Closed, Oct. 10
* Early Voting (general election), Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1-4
– Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3
– Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace
– Voter registration:
Applications are available online at www.leeelections.com, at all Lee County libraries, and other locations including Cape Coral City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce at 2051 Cape Coral Parkway, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and all Lee County Supervisor of Elections offices including the one in the Cape at 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3 A full list is available at www.leeelections.com.