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Signs of the times: Parks master plan steps off

By Staff | May 2, 2019

In the grand scheme of a $60 million dollar investment, the expenditure made this week was small, but Cape Coral voters got their first tangible taste of what is yet to come when the parks master plan gets under way in earnest.

Cape Coral city workers installed signs at 10 park sites throughout the city this week, the development of which will be paid for with the voter-approved GO Bond.

The signs were installed at Gator Circle Park, Sands Park, Tropicana Park, Cultural Park, Lake Meade Park, Oasis Woods Park and Crystal Lake Park, and at the regional parks, Lake Kennedy Racquet Center, Yellow Fever Creek Preserve, and Festival Park.

Kerry Runyon, Cape Coral Parks & Recreation director, said it is a small, but significant step toward bringing in the new parks at a cost of $160 per sign.

“We want to let people know what we’re starting with a possible concept plan and where the locations are where we will be spending money,” Runyon said. “We’re on schedule and we’re in negotiations with the engineering firms for $25 million for the neighborhood and community parks.”

In November. Cape Coral voters approved a $60 million ballot referendum to expand the city’s parks and recreation amenities.

In March, the City Council approved $10.2 million in GO Bonds to finance the first component of the Parks Master Plan for spending this year. Finance Director Victoria Bateman said she expects to come back for $15 million to $25 million more in the following two years for the balance.

If the current timeline or the plan is correct, the city is currently soliciting contractors to bid on the existing park improvements, which is Part 1 of the plan. This is expected to continue through June 21.

As of now, Runyon said the only work that is being done are on the playground shade structures in the existing parks and the lighting at the Storm Complex, home of the Pop Warner Football program.

Runyon said the signs are the first monies that have actually been spent, since everything else is either in the bidding, or request for quotation, process or the city hasn’t been billed yet.

Negotiations with the winning contractor(s) for parts 2 and 3 (the new neighborhood and regionals parks) were set to begin this week and go through June 7 or sooner if a deal can be ironed out before then.

Public hearings will take place this fall to receive input on the amenities for the new parks, as well as improvements on the existing parks.

The improvements of the existing parks are expected to be completed by the end of 2020. The new parks are to be completed by the end of 2021.

The 15-year general obligation bond will fund major parks and recreation improvements throughout the city, including seven new neighborhood parks and three community parks and improvement to existing parks.

The bonds will be re-paid with a special ad valorem tax of .37 mills, which is expected to decrease over time as the city builds out.