To the editor:
Moving the CRA to another location is not the answer. The CRA should have been on the last trolley out of the city. When the CRA began, they claimed that "downtown" had many blighted areas, and this was their reason for forming the CRA and using your tax dollars to improve the area. A lot of citizens disagreed and fought against them, but they (CRA) won out.
Here we are 20 years later and not many changes have been made, and still no "downtown." During this bad economic time the CRA is still wasting your money, money that could be used to lower our water bill or to help finance the "needs" of our city. The CRA has spent many thousands of your dollars paying for studies and drawing up plans that never come to fruition. They've showed us pictures of potential high-rise apartment buildings and office buildings. They has big money contractors willing to invest but they ended up backing out. Thousands of dollars wasted. Then they wanted to, or did, spend $250 K for an outside consultant to draw up a new plan. What a waste, and in my opinion that won't work either. I spoke against the plans for our so called "downtown" area, at a CRA meeting, stating that you can't have a downtown area with foot traffic as long as you have an EXPRESSWAY running through it. For a while they dropped the name "downtown" and called it "Cape South" but that didn't last long, either. They say they want foot traffic, but you can't even safely get from one side of the road to the other unless you cross at Del Prado and Cape Coral Parkway, or at Vincennes and Cape Coral Parkway, one heck of a walk. Crossing anywhere else is risking your life. They also just paved the Parkway and were talking about restricting parking on both sides at certain hours so that traffic can move faster and more smoothly. Oh really!!! I don't care how many trees or decorations they put up, it will never be a "downtown."
What do we have on the Parkway - True Value is gone, Busey Bank is gone, the Hallmark Store and even Junes Card and Gift Shop are gone. Now if you want party goods or reasonably priced cards you need to go all the way up Del Prado to the Coralwood Mall, the Dollar Store or even further to the Factory Card Store.
We are still looking at blight, e.g. the old Shell gas station sat there on the Parkway for the last five years with no improvement until now, and the building on the corner Del Prado and 47th Street (formerly a fruit stand) is a major eyesore and should be torn down.
What do we have to offer in our "downtown? There are no major stores, or eateries except for Iguana Mia. The drawing cards are all north of us, and that, my friends, is where most people are heading, and that's why we don't have a "downtown" and never will.
It's time to get out the etch-a-sketch and clean the slate.
By the way, someone referred to the baby boomers as if they were a group of big investors coming here to open businesses, well I've got news for you - they are just the next batch of senior citizens coming here to retire.
In closing, here's a little food for thought. This is a boater's paradise with 400 miles of navigable water in the city of Cape Coral. How many restaurants are on the water? I count three. How many bait stores? We also have an opportunity for great golfing here. If you want to promote opportunities to draw people here, you have missed the "boat." The water is our best asset - forget "downtown," we will never be able to compete (for a downtown) with Fort Myers or Naples.
Al Boyd Sr.