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SUN Trail grant not a done deal

By Staff | May 23, 2019

A proposed $10 million multi-use trail in the north Cape would cost the city very little money, as much of it would be paid for by grants.

However, the way the proposed trail is designed has made some members of the Cape Coral City Council a little leery of making the commitment.

The city was awarded a SUN Trail grant for the design of a 12-foot wide multi-use trail on the north side of Van Buren Parkway from Burnt Store road to El Dorado Boulevard; on the west side of El Dorado Boulevard from Van Buren Parkway to Kismet Parkway; and on the north side of Kismet Parkway from El Dorado Boulevard to Del Prado Boulevard.

The $10 million, 6.5-mile trail plan includes three bridges, updated drainage, and would cost $10.77 million, including the widening of Kismet Parkway and future utility connections, with most of the project paid for by grants. It is estimated the city would pay $750,000 for Kismet widening, drainage and other costs added to that figure.

However, the proposed trail would go through residential areas and take out about 12 feet worth of about 70 driveways, and many of them would have to be regraded to make the trail ADA compliant.

Mayor Joe Coviello asked during discussion Monday if the right lane of the road could be used as a bike path instead. Stephanie Smith, of Public Works, said Kismet is meant for hurricane evacuation, therefore it must remain four lanes.

To accommodate the trail, the Kismet median can be narrowed and the lanes on the north side moved south, since the SUN Trail must be a certain size.

Several council members expressed concern for the project because of how much driveway would be removed and because of the 45-mph speed limit on Kismet.

“Most homes here are built 45 feet away from the street. If we take 20 feet of that as right of way, what you will do to these homeowners is take 45 percent of their driveway,” Councilmember John Gunter said. “They won’t be able to park there. Cars won’t be able to park back to back. I have a problem with that.”

“I like the idea of having more sidewalks, but I have concerns about taking that much of someone’s driveway,” Councilmember David Stokes said.

“I can’t support this either because of the driveways. It’s outrageous we would even anticipate taking half of someone’s driveway,” Councilmember John Carioscia said.

City Manager John Szerlag said no property is being taken for the project, but if the Council felt uncomfortable, they could hold a workshop meeting on June 17 to further discuss it.

“The entire project is contained within the existing rights-of-way. This is an allowable project for that purpose,” Szerlag said. “This is a great project and we don’t want to see it tank.”

Percides Zambrano, planning manager, said they are gathering information in the wake of Council concerns. She said the project has been in the works for three years and that the grant would not pay for a bike lane.

“They had questions about alternative designs and we explored them and this is the recommended design by the consultants. A bike lane isn’t an option,” Zambrano said. “We’re going to go to the meeting on June 17 and address their questions.

Zambrano said she hopes Council will stay committed to the project as a lot of free money is on the table.

“I don’t want to believe they are moving away from this project. It has been in the pipeline since 2016. They have a lot of questions regarding driveways,” Zambrano said. “We’re going to explain everything and hope they support the project.”