CAPE CORAL, Fla. - It's your money, and tonight, Cape Coral city leaders decided to hold off on the scrub jay decision.


They will have one more workshop before deciding whether to spend $800,000 dollars of it on a scrub jay habitat in Alva.

 

Scrub jays are a threatened species of bird. If the city improves the bird habitat elsewhere, it would get a special permit to build on the bird's home. But for some, this is ruffling feathers.

In the north section of the city, there is land designated to become a park. But the city can't build here yet. And that's because at least 8 federally protected scrub jays call this area their home.

Before construction can begin here, the city needs to improve scrub jay habitat in Alva.
It's called mitigation, and the price tag is three-quarters of a million dollars.

That doesn't settle well with resident John Hansen.

"They're always taking about laying off firemen and police men and stuff like that. And they got $800,000 to throw away? What are they a bunch of idiots?" he said.

Bernie and Kathy Warchuck are new residents, and also say now is not the time. "Let the tax revenue base increase before they spend the money," said Bernie.

The improvements to bird habitat in Alva allow the city to get a permit from the U.S Fish and Wildlife that will allow construction anywhere in the city, where the endangered birds are found.

Heather Mazurkiewicz with the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association says spending the money now - will save homeowners thousands of dollars in the future.

"If the city doesn't move forward with the mitigation of the scrub jays, your ability to either put an addition on your existing home or build on your unimproved lot...there could be a significant cost increase in that. And time," she said.

If the city moves forward with this, the next step in the process: the city manager has to decide where the money is coming from. There have been talks of raising taxes, or taking the money out of the city's general fund.