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Mayor updates REIS on Cape progress

March 13, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

On the first full day he took office, Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello sat down with City Manager John Szerlag and told him 2018 will be the year the city will get things done.

And judging by what he told the gathering Tuesday at the Real Estate Investors Society at Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers, that is exactly what is happening.

Coviello gave what could best be described as a "State of the City" address, where he highlighted the many things the Cape has been doing to make news.

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Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello talks to members of the Real Estate Industry Society during the group’s monthly luncheon at Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers Tuesday.

"We're starting to make headlines now for the right reasons, and there was an image issue that needed to be addressed and I believe we're hitting that head on and moving in a positive direction," Coviello said.

Coviello said the city has been able to recover from Hurricane Irma, which did $17 million in damage. The City Council voted to allow vinyl seawalls to help city residents afford the fixes to the damages the storm caused.

Coviello also spoke about the Southeast 47th Terrace streetscape project and the infrastructure to be installed there which he hopes will spark development.

As a result of the project, City Council will reconsider extending bar hours from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. at its meeting Monday.

"That extra hour results in extra revenue for those businesses. People in the hospitality business get out of work at midnight and like to go out and it gives them time to enjoy themselves," Coviello said, adding that Bike Night would be moved to Lafayette Street during construction.

He also discussed the possible purchase of the old golf course acreage and what it can do to help other areas downtown. Szerlag is now negotiating a purchase price for the land.

"That is a key ingredient to the entire area because there are other things that can happen down there," Coviello said as he ran off his "Mayor's Wish List."

Among them is the lack of parking at the Yacht Club, where there is a pier and the Boat House restaurant, but not much in the way of space. He said he would like to move the Tony Rotino Senior Center and the tennis courts to the golf course acreage off Palm Tree Boulevard to increase parking near the waterfront park and create more beach space.

On March 26, City Council will hear about the Bimini Basin project, where there is a park and a daycare that also could be moved to the golf course property the city hopes to buy, Coviello said.

Th mayor said the golf course acreage could be purchased through money the city could make from the sale of the city-owned Seven Islands acreage, or through a public/private partnership for that land bought in 2012 as part of a $13 million land purchase. Today, the Seven Islands waterfront acreage alone has been appraised at $25.3 million.

"That's the answer to some residents who believe there will be some tax increase that go along with the purchase of the land," Coviello said.

Coviello also talked about the Utility Expansion Project, business development on Pine Island Road, where three car dealerships are set to move to, the opening of the Westin Convention Center and the continued saga regarding the franchise agreement between the city and its electric services provider, LCEC.

Coviello added that the land development codes are still in the making as are the parking regulations for residential areas, which forbid the parking of vehicles on driveways with signage.

As far as secondary education, Coviello said he would like to see Cape Coral Technical College do more training in the trades so those who don't see college as an option can get good paying jobs in areas beside hospitality.

"We need to train people in trades. The biggest problem builders have is finding help to build houses. We pulled 1,600 permits last year for homes and they can't find enough help," Coviello said.

Randy Krise said the mayor's mostly positive words were received well by REIS.

"They're doing some projects that should spur economic growth. They seem a little ambitious on Seven Islands and paying for the golf course, but what do I know," Krise said.



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