by John Szerlag, City Manager, City of Cape Coral
Major parks and recreation improvements to be made citywide
Cape Coral voters approved a $60 million expansion of the city’s parks and recreation amenities. A general obligation bond referendum was on the General Election ballot. The measure passed with 54 percent of the vote. The “yes” votes tallied 37,494 and the “no” votes totaled 32,475 (46 percent). There were 69,969 total votes cast.
The approved bond will fund major parks and recreation improvements throughout the city. The improvements include seven new neighborhood parks, the development of three community parks and two freshwater boat ramps. Also, the projects include improvements to existing parks that include new playground equipment, shade structures, pavilions, fencing and improvements to parking areas.
The 15-year bond will cost 37 cents (0.37 mils) per $1,000 of taxable property value for the first year. A property with a taxable value of $100,000 will pay $37. Because taxable values in the city are adjusted each year, this cost is estimated to decrease to about 17 cents per $1,000 by the end of the 15-year term. More than half of Cape Coral homeowners will pay less than $50 annually.
In 2016, a Parks Master Plan was adopted by City Council. Various workshops, surveys, and focus groups were conducted to develop the Plan. Based on the City’s 2015 population estimates, the Parks Master Plan identified the need for 660 acres to meet the standard of 8.5 acres per 1,000 population. The city is now the 9th largest city in the state of Florida. We have grown because future residents are choosing our city because it is safe, and has an excellent quality of life with overall lower costs compared to other similar-sized cities.
The community’s support of the general obligation bond allows the City to deliver on the vision of providing our families with the highest quality of life through our parks and recreation amenities. Now that the community has spoken, our efforts will go into high gear. The result will be an unprecedented expansion of the City’s parks system delivered in the same efficient, effective and transparent manner the Cape Coral community has come to know and expect.
The City will be holding meetings to listen to our residents who will help to select amenities for the construction of new neighborhood parks. In the meantime, City staff are fast at work preparing bond documents and gathering information to determine what projects can get underway as quickly as possible.
The City is expected to issue the bond for funds in 2019, with improvements to existing parks to begin shortly after. Project plans, financial data about the City’s use of bond funds and regular progress reports will be provided to residents. For more information about this initiative visit www.capecoral.net/gobond