Cape Coral City Council has agreed to take another look at extending bar hours in the South Cape until 4 a.m. on the weekends.
Enough council members attending Friday's special workshop expressed a willingness to keep their minds open to more information and research provided by Councilmember Richard Leon who is leading the charge toward a new permanent ordinance. An extension to the one-year pilot ordinance was voted down earlier this year when it expired.
"The vote was 4-4, but I think some on the other side of the issue were willing to allow this with changes," said Leon. "I just would like a consensus from those on council to work with you and move this forward. Otherwise, I don't want to waste any more of my time or staff's time. If you agree, I will work with the private sector and get their input and come back to a (workshop) meeting with an attached ordinance. And, of course, we could end it there."
Councilmember Rick Williams, who has been against extending bar hours from the very beginning, told the panel that he needed convincing with more information and data, but would keep an open mind.
"I'm hearing from the people I represent that they don't want this," Williams said. "I need more information to be sold on the idea. Someone needs to show that it really is working to help the economy. We need to do a better job of marketing the program to the people. If I vote for this I don't want my constituents on the phone threatening not to vote for me next time."
Joe Mazurkiewicz of BJM Consulting offered to bring a presentation to council showing the benefits enjoyed by the businesses in South Cape during the last year in addition to the growth of new businesses tied to the extended bar hours.
"He's offered to help us out with a plan, and I think it's a good idea to work with the Council For Progress on this," said Williams.
Councilmember Jessica Cosden said she was open to more discussion on the matter, but reiterated her stance that it should not cost taxpayers anything.
Councilmember Rana Erbrick said she would be looking for consistency.
"I don't care if bars are open 24/7,"Erbrick said. "If it's strictly two hours two days a week I'm out. I think it should be allowed citywide, but it needs to be policed properly."
Leon and city staff will work over the summer hiatus to provide the additional data requested by council members and draft an ordinance to be considered at a future workshop session before it goes to council for public hearing and a final vote.