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$12 million trail grant back on the table

By Staff | Jun 13, 2019

A proposed $12 million state-funded trail will come before Cape Coral City Council for another round of discussion Monday with some new information: If the city declines the money, it could hinder the city’s chances of receiving other grants.

That is the conclusion expected to be made by city staff when the Shared-Use Non-motorized SUN Trail is once again discussed at the workshop meeting to be held immediately following the Council’s special meeting at City Hall.

The trail discussion was tabled last month after questions were raised regarding rights-of-way and driveways of those who reside along the trail’s path.

The city was awarded a SUN Trail grant for the design of a 12-foot wide multi-use path 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; approximately 6.5 miles.

The city hopes this non-motorized trail will provide a signature destination for recreational activity in the north Cape.

Kismet Parkway was added to the SUN Trail network in March 2015. A year later, city staff applied for SUN Trail funds with the support of city and county organizations. The city was awarded $12 million for the design and construction, with the last money accepted by resolution in May.

No additional right-of-way is required.

However, when City Council saw the plan at last month’s workshop, some members were concerned. The proposed trail would go through residential areas and take out about 12 feet of about 70 driveways, and many would have to be regraded to make the trail ADA compliant.

The affected driveway portions cross the public right-of-way.

“They won’t be able to park there. Cars won’t be able to park back to back. I have a problem with that,” Councilmember John Gunter 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 defended the project.

“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, is expected in her presentation to warn that the trail cannot become a bike lane, cannot be narrowed, nor can the median be narrowed to accommodate additional driveway length.

According to city documents, if the city stops the project, it will negatively impact chances of the city obtaining future grants.

Possible solutions to the driveway issue include the addition of concrete pads on the side of the driveways of 10 of the 59 improved lots, which could be done on some of the developed properties at a cost of between $50,000 and $100,000.

The undeveloped properties could have the land-use rules amended for new construction to modify front and rear setbacks.

Carioscia said the changes were sufficient to help him change his mind.

“They’ve come up with a solution so the rear of the house could be closer to the rear lot line on the undeveloped properties,” Carioscia said. “I’m happy now. I didn’t want to see them lopping off so many feet of driveway.”

Monday’s Special Council meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. On that agenda is a resolution for the contract for professional design for neighborhood parks to be funded via $60 million in voter-approved general obligation bonds.

Council meets in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.