$60M approved for Cape Coral parks to accommodate population growth

A huge project is sprouting in Southwest Florida’s largest city. Cape Coral will soon have 11 new parks. The citywide park project will cost $60 million. In exchange for more parks, homeowner property taxes will go up.

The future development of Festival Park in northwest Cape Coral is expected to keep up with continued growth in the city.

Proposed park features such as an amphitheater will only help bring more young families to the area, but the project’s price tag is concerning neighbors.

“We really enjoy the parks down here,” Shari Walker said. “We’re always going to the parks, and it’s amazing. Where we’re from in Maryland, there’s not that many parks, and they aren’t as accessible as they are here.”

Walker is surprised the city says it is in dire need of parks.

“Everywhere you look there’s a park, and we love it,” Walker said.

But retired developer Skip Thomas said Cape Coral is only trying to plan for all the growth coming to Southwest Florida.

“We’re looking to keep adding people,” Thomas said. “And with this process, you gotta realize you’re negotiating with a glacier, so it’s not going to happen right away, and you have to look 10 to 20 years down the road.”

The city got the green light for the parks project in November 2018 when voters approved the money for the project — $60 million. That’s enough money to build 11 new parks and a multi-sports park.

It will also include expenditures for improvements to 19 existing parks, including the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

“If the city wants to develop an industry, you need an attraction for it,” Thomas said. “And young employees look at schools, they look at parks, stores, so it’s a necessary tool.”

But the cost falls on homeowners, who will be paying higher property taxes for the next 15 years.

This is an idea Walker isn’t too keen on.

“Property taxes are a little steep down here,” Walker said. “There’s a lot of things we get out of our property taxes. Some things are good. Some things I don’t think they really do enough with the property taxes they have.”

The city manager is presenting council a 3-year plan, involving new parks like Festival Park, which could be completed by the end of 2021.

This PDF link shares the timeline planned for newly proposed parks in Cape Coral.

Click here to see the location for proposed parks on the timeline.

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
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