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Guest opinion: A ‘yes’ for the GO Parks Bond is a vote for the Cape’s future

October 26, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As Cape Coral voters go to the polls in November, they will be making important choices that could have impact at the federal, state and regional levels. All of these votes are important; however, there is only one issue on the ballot where Cape Coral voters can have a profound, positive impact right here in our Cape Coral community. The issue happens to be the very last item on a long ballot - it is the General Obligation Parks Bond Referendum, and I am asking Cape Coral voters to vote "yes."

Of all the decisions on the ballot in November, your vote on the GO Parks Bond to fund $60 million of parks and recreation projects throughout the city will be a generational decision. Why? Because our voters will be deciding how much value they place on green space, and parks and recreation amenities for our community. The vote on the GO Parks Bond will determine what level of parks and recreation services will be provided for our current and future residents.

Why is the GO Parks Bond on the ballot? Cape Coral is the ninth largest city in Florida with a population nearing 200,000 residents, yet we are sorely lacking in parks and recreation facilities and programs. Our 2016 Parks Master Plan showed we are several hundred acres short of the parkland needed to meet the parks and recreation demands of our current and future population. The GO Parks Bond will go a long way toward reducing this deficit.

Article Photos

Mayor Joe Coviello

So what will Cape Coral residents receive if they approve the $60 million GO Parks Bond? The funds will be used to build seven new neighborhoods parks, develop three larger community parks that will include significant improvements at the popular Yacht Club Community Park. Residents will get an environmental park, two freshwater boat ramps, and upgrades to at least 19 existing parks. New amenities will include pickleball and tennis courts, shade structures, walking paths, new beaches, playgrounds, camping, a dog park, Wi-Fi access at all parks and many acres of green space.

As you can see, there are many terrific projects being funded with the GO Parks Bond. Having said that, one question we often are asked is whether Cape Coral can complete these projects on a "pay-as-you-go" plan rather than issuing the bond. The simple answer is "yes." But it is important to realize we do not have funds readily available in our General Fund operating budget for these projects. Any dollars available to be set aside for parks development would be limited. As an example, if we were able to identify about $500,000 every year, these funds could be used to build one neighborhood park every five years or so. The slower pace to complete the work is the main drawback to a "pay-as-you-go" plan. At this pace, it would take more than 35 years just to complete the much-needed, seven new neighborhood parks. And if we want to develop the three community parks and the environmental park? Those projects would need many more decades to finish.

That is why we say this is a "generational" decision for our Cape Coral voters. In less than 10 years, we can complete $60 million of new park development, multiple upgrades and improvements at existing parks. We can accomplish this together and retire the bond's debt obligation in only 15 years.

We know that $60 million sounds like a lot of money - and it is. Keep in mind when the cost is allocated to all taxpayers (residential, commercial - vacant and developed), more than 56 percent of all residents in Cape Coral will pay $50 or less for the first year. In fact, 88 percent of our residents will pay $100 or less the first year. As Cape Coral's total taxable values increase each year with new construction, the annual amount likely will decrease every year over the life of the bond. Please note that the cost is based on the taxable value of the property, not the assessed or market value. The taxable value is the amount after all exemptions have been applied.

This year's ballot is full of questions for our voters including plenty of decisions based on one's politics. But at the end of the ballot where the GO Parks Bond question resides, this is where politics should be set aside. This question asks our voters to look at the landscape of Cape Coral and determine the value of parks and recreation to their community. This question is about making a significant investment in Cape Coral and living in one of the best cities in the country.

Vote "yes" on the GO Parks Bond. This is a decision that will produce long-term positive benefits for your family, your friends, your neighbors and your community. Visit the GO Parks Bond web page at www.capecoral.net/GOBond for more information. You will be amazed at the difference your investment in parks and recreation will make for Cape Coral.

- Joe Coviello is the mayor of the city of Cape Coral

 
 
 

 

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