To the editor:
Thanks seems like such a small word for all the experiences I have had as your Cape Coral councilman from District 6. 8,000-plus voters supported me in 2009, 7,000-plus in 2013. When you think that Germain Arena holds 8,000 people for a concert, those numbers are truly humbling. I want to thank all those voters who validated my efforts by supporting me through two elections.
I look back fondly at several highlights over my four years in office. My council finally placed underground the LCEC transmission lines through the CRA downtown district. This decision was delayed for the 10 previous years as the city, CRA boards and LCEC could not reach a conclusion to this process. It is now accomplished and guarantees the critical electric lines infrastructure that would have been compromised during another storm crisis. A failure of this system would have left over half the city without power, with this redundancy in place, that is no longer a concern during a hurricane.
The year 2010 brought 26 land use changes to the city. Twenty-two of those 26 changes were located in my North Cape district, at that time, it encompassed the entire area north of Pine Island Road. The 2010 Census showed that 42,000 people resided in my district so it was split between Districts 7 and District 6 equally. We carved out commercial properties for the future expansion of our city, before the neighborhoods were built. This long range planning will prevent much of the commercial neighborhood conflicts that have continuously haunted our city's expansion plans. We went from a 9 percent commercial base to a much more sustainable 20 percent commercial / residential mix. The start up of the Waste Pro's automated system that saves residents $1 million/year and the city $700,000. Over the 10-year lifespan of that contract, that's $17 million in combined savings. It also has given us a better and more driver safer system than what we used to have.
Restarting the UEP in 2013 after it was halted in 2009 was another important accomplishment. Utility rates had soared to levels that would have crippled our potential to grow moving forward. Restarting the UEP at historic low rates and financing allowed the city to lower rates 3 percent instead of a 5 percent increase that was scheduled to occur. It also put Cape Coral back on track to smartly grow its utility infrastructure and bring in commercial development to provide jobs for our residents. We are also leading the nation in our protection of wildlife during this UEP construction project. The partnership of the city staff, contractors and the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife will assure as little as possible destruction of habitat or wildlife occurs during this process. The new VA clinic, new Army Reserve base, a new Sam's Club and a new high-end RV resort are just some of the new job growth opportunities that have been added to Cape Coral during my time in office. Those 26 commercial land use changes will develop over time as the roads and utility infrastructure are improved around them.
Paving the North Cape neighborhood roads and providing street lights at all the bus stops in our city- these were a focal point of my time in office and I am finally going to see both of them get accomplished within the next two years. Those roads have not been touched in 40 years and the neighborhoods were starting to blight from that neglect. The diversified revenue streams of the public service tax and the fire service assessment have stabilized our financial base and has allowed the city to achieve a AA stable bond rating, a vast improvement of our financial base moving forward. This will allow Cape Coral to continue to maintain its roads, bridges, and fleet and building maintenance for decades to come. Expansion of Pine Island Road between Chiquita and Burnt Store Road and the soon-to start-expansion of Burnt Store Road will also add important commercial corridor opportunities to our city.
They will also provide a vital evacuation route for our residents during a hurricane crisis.
The future of Cape Coral looks bright. The new council should lead us into that bright future with a far more "professional demeanor" that the councils I have had to endure. Good luck to this new council. I am sure this new positive sense of purpose will move us forward into an even better city to raise our families. To the city staff, with whom I have worked over the last four years, thank you for all you do to keep Cape Coral the city we all love to call home.
To all my supporters and friends in Cape Coral, thank you for the opportunity I have had to serve and Thank you for all those memories.
Cape Coral Councilman District 6