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Editorial | A change for the good

By Staff | Jan 11, 2024

Cape Coral’s first budget workshops of the new year will take place next week with a welcome change.

While the two-day discussion session — previously referred to as a “council retreat — will again take place off site, this year’s meetings to be held Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 at Mercola Market will be televised on CapeTV.

That’s not only a good decision, it’s a great one, for while these workshops have always been open to the public with citizen input accepted, attendance has been sparse.

The “less formal” location is unfamiliar.

The workshops, which begin at 9 a.m., are held during business hours, making it difficult for many in our growing-younger community to attend.

And they are long — very long — even if the second day is not needed to cover everything on the table.

Televising allows the public to listen in real time or at their convenience as meeting tapes are posted to the city’s website at CapeCoral.gov.

Posted meeting video does two other things. It allows residents to target the areas of discussion in which they are interested, become informed and then provide input directly to members of the city council via email or at a regular meeting.

It also creates an easily accessible archive of discussions. It allows residents coming in later on an issue to better track discussions from the Council-consensus stage to the Council-vote stage at which point “later” too often has become “too late.”

Case in point and one of ’23’s contentious controversies.

The agenda for last year’s meeting, held Jan. 26 in the conference room at the Nicholas Annex, was succinct. There were a only pair of discussion items: Discussion of Major Projects and Initiatives and the Yacht Club, which had incurred heavy damage from Hurricane Ian throughout the park complex.

Consensus built at the ’23 retreat not only included discussion on the possible purchase of the old golf course acreage, long-term infrastructure related to utility expansion, land purchases for aquifer storage and recovery wells, privatizing the city-owned golf course Coral Oaks and the Bimini Basin Mooring Field, but the fate of Yacht Club, built by the city’s founders as a community gathering place.

And that fate-by-consensus for whole new vision — which includes demolition of the state-declared historic Ballroom sometime this month — became a done deal.

The agenda for this year’s meeting will be made available on the city’s website when finalized.

Call them retreats, call them budget workshops, these meetings are a good concept.

We urge residents to attend or watch.

We thank City Manager Michael Ilcycszyn for making it possible.

Breeze editorial