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From the Breeze archives: Tuesday’s election will climax a 16-month study

By Staff | Sep 18, 2020

(Editor’s note: The following story was published in the Aug. 13, 1970, edition of the Cape Coral Breeze.)

Cape Coral voters will go to the polls Tuesday, Aug. 18, to decide the fate of a proposition to incorporate Cape Coral as a city.

The election, for which more than 6,000 voters are eligible to cast ballots, is the culmination of more than a year of planning and debate on the merits of this major step in the growth of this 12-year-old community whose population has mushroomed from zero in the days when the area was pineland and mangrove swamp to almost 15,000 living here in beautiful homes.

More than a year ago — at an April 1969 meeting of the Cape Coral Civic Association — the issue was joined when Charles M. Blackburn, president of Cape Coral Bank, attacked a proposal for a county charter form of government and strongly advocated incorporation. His suggestion was received with wide applause.

Following the meeting, Blackburn said, “I am personally not satisfied with the service we are getting from the County, and many of us believe, on the basis of information now available, that incorporation would furnish the services we require at minimum cost. The purpose of the committee is to determine, from actual studies, whether this premise is correct, or if some other form of government would be more efficiently fill our needs.”

The Nucleus Committee called for the first public meeting on incorporation for July 8 at the Yacht Club. The more than 500 in attendance authorized the committee to proceed with its study. Blackburn named William H. Cordes, Bob South and Paul Fickinger as members of a nominating committee to report back to another meeting on Aug. 12 with an organizational structure for the study.

This the nominating committee did. Chester M. “Chet” Grunsten was named chairman of the Committee on Incorporation and more than 120 other citizens were assigned to committees and tasks for the study with a target date for completion of Oct. 15.

A 20-page brochure was published on Nov. 6 detailing the committee’s findings which were highlighted by its first conclusion “that incorporation of Cape Coral as a municipality under the laws of the State of Florida is economically feasible and desirable.”

More than 900 people jammed the Yacht Club on Nov. 24 for a meeting at which those opposing and those favoring incorporation were given a chance to air their views, and petitions were launched for signatures requesting the Lee County legislative delegation to introduce legislation calling for a referendum on incorporation for Cape Coral.

Three members of the delegation, Sen. Elmer Friday, Sen. L.A. “Skip” Bafalis, and Rep. Ted Randell, attended the public meeting here on Jan. 5 “to hear the views or expressions of people” on the issues. A second formal public hearing on incorporation was held before the legislative delegation in the Lee County Courthouse on Feb. 17 at which time a draft bill requesting a referendum was presented to the delegation by members of the Committee on Incorporation.

The bill cleared the legislature in the final hours of the 1970 session and became law without the signature of Gov. Claude Kirk. County Commissioners were required to call the referendum within 45 days after it became law. They set the date for the referendum as Aug. 18.

Cape Coral voters will be voting under the new precinct structure in seven precincts for the first time instead of two as in previous elections. In addition a few voters residing in four other precincts but within the proposed city boundaries of Cape Coral also will be permitted to vote.

A total of 6,092 voters are eligible to cast ballots, acceding to Mrs. Clarence Clutz, supervisor of elections. The number of eligible voters for each Cape Coral precinct is as follows:

Precinct 29 — 1,398; precinct 35 — 702; precinct 54 — 707; precinct 55 — 843; precinct 56 — 726; precinct 57 — 631; and precinct 58 — 878. The number of voters eligible in the partial precincts are: precinct 5 — 211; precinct 24 — 41; precinct 30 –121; and precinct 37 — 24.

Cape Coral precinct 29 will have four voting machines available. Each of the other Cape precincts will have two voting machines. The four partial precincts will have one voting machine each.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.