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Streetscape add-ons proposed
April 12, 2018

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If the South Cape Community Redevelopment Agency and the Cape Coral City Council agree to proposed add-ons to the Southeast 47th Terrace Streetscape project, it could add as much as $805,000 to the plan that is already expected to cost $13 million.

The proposed streetscape additions include two information kiosks and video cameras ($200,000 each), license plate readers, fiber cable and electric vehicle chargers ($100,000 each), replacement lighting in Big John's parking lot ($75,000) and bollards to block off streets during special events ($30,000).

"Those are items that have been requested or discussed and are in there, but neither the CRA nor the city council has approved these improvements," said city spokesperson Connie Barron.

Some of the additional funding is proposed to piggyback on the loan to pay for Fire Station 11 on Burnt Store Road and a portion of the existing streetscape project.

The funding ordinance, Ordinance 30-18, was introduced during the April 2 city council meeting with a public hearing on it set for May 7.

City Manager John Szerlag sent a memorandum on March 30, saying staff has recommended the city enter into a bank loan of $8.1 million, with $3.75 million going toward land acquisition, construction and equipment for the new fire station, paid for through the general fund, and $4.12 million to go toward a portion of the construction costs of the streetscape project.

In addition, projects such as these usually have contingency money put in place. If there is any money left at the end of the project, the city and CRA would then "true up" the final cost, Szerlag said.

"I'm not asking council to approve these elements, I want them to know that this is on the horizon," Szerlag said. "When I go back to council I have to tell them we'd like to have these items added to the project. At that point, we need to identify the funding source."

Currently, the cost is split between the city's General Fund, or property taxes citywide, and the CRA, which operates on a type of district property tax. But if there is $200,000 in contingency, that could be used to fund the wants and needs for the streetscape, Szerlag said, adding that the default funding source is always the general fund.

From there, the CRA will need to decide if the authority wants all, some, or none of the additional improvements.

"There is an agreement between the city and the CRA over what they will pay for in the streetscape project. The city manager is not going to allocate those costs to the CRA without first taking it to the CRA to see what they would be willing and able to pay," Barron said.

Szerlag said many of the costs are estimates and that the city will see where they are during budget season and find the source of funding for these items and take it from there.

The video cameras and license plate readers were discussed when city council was determining whether to bring back extended bar hours within the South Cape Entertainment District, Barron said.

City Councilmember John Carioscia said he is skeptical that the city needs all the cameras and other items in the name of safety, presumably to cover extended bar hours.

"We've had two weekends of 3 a.m. bars. No incidents or anything attributed to 3 a.m. Sometimes we have a reaction to things. The council will find out exactly what's going on and why it will cost so much," Carioscia said. "If it's necessary, I'll be aboard. If it's something we can look at, where do we draw the line."

Carioscia said it was peculiar that these things weren't proposed when bars closed at 2 a.m., but when bars hours were once again extended, "we need all this stuff."

Still, Carioscia said that the measure would likely be approved if that's something the Cape Coral Police Department wants and believes it needs.

"If you want me to get out my crystal ball, I would say no one will vote down something that's necessary or that the police chief says will enhance safety for our residents," Carioscia said.

Barron said safety is driving the request, that cameras are probably a good idea regardless of when the bars close since the purpose of the extended weekend hours is to bring people to the area and the city wants to assure that security is in place.

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