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City employee health center gets support, proposed gun range does not

By Staff | Jul 30, 2019

Cape Coral City Council worked its way through an agenda packed with both old business and new Monday, with a planned health center for employees garnering support and a proposed indoor gun range for the police department not.

The proposed employee health center is moving along nicely, according to Assistant City Manager Connie Barron.

“We’re looking to provide our employees a full range of services designed to save the city money,” Barron said. “We worked with the Gehring Group and sent out an RFP and ended up with My Health Onsite.”

The city hopes to save $4 million over the first three years, including start-up costs, and $8.8 million over five years, assuming a 75 percent participation rate.

The city and My Health Onsite will work on a contract in hope of getting the clinic up and running by the end of the year.

The proposed $8.3 million firearms training center for the Cape Coral Police Department, which Police Chief David Newlan spoke in favor of, though, did not draw the support needed to move forward.

The department had hoped to proceed with the design phase of the range at a cost of $650,000, with $500,000 to come from a state grant.

Newlan said the city has outgrown its training capabilities at the Lee County Gun Range in Alva, and the training itself has changed, necessitating the need for an updated location close to home.

However, the $500,000 appropriation was vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, meaning the city would have to come up with all of the money for the design component, the necessary first step.

The prospect did not sit well with Council.

Councilmember John Carioscia, a former law enforcement officer, said while Cape Coral does sit among the 10 largest cities in Cape Coral, the CCPD still has not reached numbers that warrant a stand alone gun range. The smallest department in the state to have its own gun range is 20 percent larger than the CCPD, which has 250 sworn officers, he said.

“For $8 million to have a gun range built, even if it comes from impact fees, isn’t warranted at this time,” Carioscia said. “I won’t support this. It’s premature. Once we spend $650,000 down the rabbit hole on this, we’re in.”

Council took no action on the proposal.

In other business, it seems the city, the neighbors in the Four Corners area and the developer of proposed multi-family housing are started to come together, in that they are mostly in agreement with a plan to put low-density multi-family housing on three of the four corners, and quality commercial on the fourth.

The first of two public hearings was held to discuss an ordinance to build light density housing (16 units per acre) on three corners of the intersection of Aqualinda Boulevard and Beach Parkway, with something such as a Starbucks on the other corner. A maximum of 264 units would be built.

Residents, who protested vehemently in February, weren’t overjoyed, but Randy Landers, representing the neighborhood, said it would likely be the best they could do.

“What the Planning Department has put forward we feel is, for the most part, the best we’re going to get for the Four Corners and stand in full support of what’s being proposed,” Landers said, adding he would like to see some boutique restaurants.

Russ Whitney, one of the owners, said the infrastructure could support such a project, and that the design of the project would fit in with the neighborhood, which is single-family residential.

“We do not want to see a gas station or a Wawa there. We want to see a mixed-use and possibly a Starbucks or a family-owned restaurant that fits a neighborhood which needs it,” Whitney said. “We don’t want three oranges and an apple.”

The second public hearing will be Aug. 12.