Despite the protests of a former Cape Coral City councilman, Cape Coral City Council agreed Monday to deed a parcel deemed "surplus" to an abutting property owner.
Former Councilmember Bill Deile came to the podium during city council's regular meeting at City Hall to voice objection over the city's plan to deed a piece of unusable surplus property on Old Burnt Store Road.
The proposed owners, the Ardel and Wonda Glasgow, who currently live on Fort Myers Beach, want that third piece of partially-submerged property to build a seawall there, since the property by itself isn't suitable to build on.
Deile asked city council why it would give away land when last year it had bought more than 650 acres of land for $13 million.
"I heard we would use that property for land swaps. We're giving it away to people who live in Fort Myers Beach," Deile said. "The rationale is for him to build a seawall and put the land on the tax codes."
Things soon got testy when Councilmember Derrick Donnell, then Lenny Nesta called a point of order when Deile criticized Councilmember Marty McClain for only giving a partial settlement to a city resident appealing a water bill.
Deile, who was defeated in the District 3 election by Nesta, then cracked about Nesta's penchant for being quiet during meetings, which brought out Mayor John Sullivan's gavel for order.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail called it a blast from the past.
"They returned to the past when he had a captive audience and could go on for two hours," McGrail said. "It was when he wandered off topic that another councilman said 'Wait a minute.' I have news for him. He lost the election."
After Deile's lengthy presentation, another resident, Nate Bliss, a neighbor, said "I wouldn't pay $54 for that $54,000 piece of property."
Pictures of the site showed the land had eroded badly, with paths down the hill where people slid down the hill to fish, thus killing the vegetation.
"A picture is worth 10,000 words. The property is washing into the canal. It's time the soil got stabilized," McGrail said. "We're not happy giving a piece of property away, but it's disintegrating."
Council voted 6-2 to give the Glasgows the land, with Sullivan and Chris Chulakes-Leetz voting against.
Afterward, Deile said he wasn't surprised by the vote, but disappointed that the land, paid for, he said, by ratepayers, would be given up
"The land is an incalculable value. It makes a triple lot out of a double lot and has direct gulf access," Deile said. "I would guess those three lots, would be worth $400,000. Land values along the canal are rising. Now the boat lift is gone, there's direct access."
In other business, council also had the first hearing for an ordinance to add recreational vehicle parks as a special exception use in an agricultural district, which would clear the way for a proposed RV resort to be built along Burnt Store Road.
The second and final hearing is slated for March 11.
Council also voted 7-1 on a resolution stating the city's municipal charter schools do not get their fair share of funding from the Lee County School District.
McGrail said the issue was about sustainability for the schools, which are treated by the state the same way as private schools are.
"The politicians in Tallahassee haven't wanted to get involved in a small niche of schools, so they lump them in with the privates and the word is no," McGrail said. "It makes sense not to support private schools with public funds, but we need to carve out a niche."
Donnell, an educator, cast the opposition vote, saying it has nothing to do with how schools perform and that the state legislature won't pick it up because it's a "political hot potato."