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Three phases, 10-year project: Cape Council hears parks plan, funding ideas

By Staff | Nov 10, 2016

Cape Coral City Council gots its first look at a proposed Parks Master Plan Wednesday.

David Barth of Barth Associates made its draft plan presentation during a special workshop meeting at City Hall.

Reactions were mixed and before the presentation even started, several people got up during public comment and asked why the Golf Course property wasn’t included in the mix.

“The plan needs to reflect the Golf Course. We need one large green space to be maintained,” said Max Forgey, a certified planner. “We hope that amenity, with a recreation component, will continue to serve Cape Coral.”

After the presentation, Councilmember Jim Burch praised the plan, but also lamented the lack of inclusion of the old golf course site, which is in private ownership and slated for development.

“Everything speaks to that land. It can satisfy the need on everything,” Burch said.

The city does not own the acreage but Burch said he is looking for a way to acquire it.

Unless the property is acquired, it cannot be part of the master plan.

The master plan is proposed for three phases.

The first is to develop plans for seven parks and initiate master plans for key venues and additional land acquisition for Festival Park, Lake Mead Park and other sites. It also would develop citywide park design standards for amenities and improvements and would be implemented from 2016-18.

The other two phases would take place from now until 2025, with the total cost of $56.71 million.

Much of that could be bonded with an increase of .45 mills over the next 10 years, which would require a referendum, officials said.

From there, the funding would sunset, with the city having the option of getting another 10-year bond for more parks.

The rest would come from grants, donations and partnerships, capital improvements and concessions.

Councilmember Rick Williams said he wanted to work on a parks plan with a grant mechanism to keep from having to raise taxes.

“Will the public go for that? If not, the project will screech to a halt. We need to get grants,” Williams said.

Councilmember Marilyn Stout liked the plan, but thought it would be too costly to maintain.

“Who pays for this? It’s illogical. I can’t imagine one park per mile on 123 square miles. I like the report, but we need to work on it,” Stout said.

Barth said the city is woefully short on park acreage, a deficit that will increase as time goes on and buildout occurs. Much of the current park space is specialized, such as for BMX racing, softball and other things.

There also is a lack of key activities, such as bocce and pickleball courts, according to the analysis.

The six key items emphasized were to improve access, create great places, acquire land, maximize resources, plan and design and branding.

The specialized parks would have amenities such as food trucks or concessions, large tracts of land for play, wi-fi access, playgrounds, fire pits and other things to make them accessible to everyone.