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Cape Council to discuss parks master plan on Monday
August 9, 2018

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The Cape Coral City Council will once again tackle the subject of parks when it meets Monday.

The discussion will be about the November referendum where voters will determine whether to approve the issuance of $60 million in general obligation bonds to fund a multi-year parks plan, something consultants say is badly needed for the city.

Connie Barron, interim assistant city manager, said city staff will go over some concepts and projects, and council will need to determine what its priorities are, what projects can be funded and make sure if this is what council wants to do.

"The whole point is we want council to say yes or no on these projects. We want to identify where every dollar is going to go," Barron said. "The council will decide what those projects will be."

Barron has said that the possible purchase of the old golf course acreage is separate from the bond.

Also, a proposed athletic complex behind Oasis High School could be up in the air after the Budget Review Committee recommended Thursday that the city look into turning the high school into an elementary or middle school because of the cost of educating each student. That projected was not among those contemplated as part of the original Parks Master Plan, Barron said.

If there's no high school, a sports complex likely won't be necessary, at least at that location.

"I think some of the discussion will revolve around that. The majority of council would have to agree that is something that should be included," Barron said. "If you add something that wasn't included in the Master Plan, you have to take a look at something you want to take away."

In 2016, Barth & Associates conducted a study and determined the city was woefully lacking in terms of parks and recreation opportunities.

The city administration put together a panel which got together and conceived a Parks Master Plan which was passed by the city council on December 2016, to determine the city's plans for parks over the next 15 to 20 years.

Based on 2015 population estimates, the city needs an additional 660 acres to meet the city's original standard of 8.5 acres per 1,000 population. It would also need 336 acres of regional parks land and 291 acres of community park land. By buildout, the city will need 2,570 acres, 1,235 acres of regional land, and 741 acres of both community and neighborhood park land.

Only specialty parks are where they need to be, the master parks plan states.

In June, the city council agreed to put a $60 million general obligation bond referendum on the General Election ballot in November.

The bonds issuance, which would mature in 15 years, is projected to cost taxpayers .36 mills - 36 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value - in the beginning, trickling downward to about .17 mills by the end of the term as if people move to the city and property values increase.

Council meetings begin at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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