What Cape Coral residents want for their city’s future

How can Cape Coral become a better place to live? The City wanted to know what its residents think of living there, from the water to the amenities. And, they plan to speed thousands to have the future laid out.

Cape Coral hired a firm to survey more than 1,000 people, asking them “How can the city improve? What’s missing? What are we doing well?” But, long-time members of the community do not believe that a study is the solution.

According to the results, the top three opportunities for the city to build on are higher-quality amenities like retail shops, further economic development, which would bring those amenities, and aspiring to a higher standard of living. A local event planner said a lot of people in the Cape have to go elsewhere for entertainment.

“A lot of the other municipalities in the area, [they] have city property where event planning companies like myself can rent and partner with the city to bring in guests, and bring in people not just from the city themselves but from the surrounding areas,” said Danielle Gates, owner of Businesses Supporting Communities.

The survey also says the top weakness of the city is water quality, followed by local infrastructure, like traffic, and aboveground electricity. Many people living in Cape Coral told WINK News they agree.

“Try Del Prado [Boulevard] about 7 o ‘clock in the morning,” said Wally Laumayer, a 35-year resident. “You’ll see, you’ll get an education.”

“Traffic, lots and lots of traffic, especially this time of year when everyone from up north comes down here,” said 5-year resident Dean Reeds. “They really need to work on that and improve. That, I don’t know how they can do it, but they need to plan for it now before it gets worse, because 10 years from now, it’s going to be unbelievable to drive around here.”

Cape Coral leaders hope to bring more businesses to the city in an effort to cut down on that traffic. Then, people will be able to work where they live.

But, Cape Coral is growing and that is one of the concerns. Rob Hernandez is the city manager.  “We’re seeing traffic Pine Island Road, we’re seeing traffic Santa Barbara so long with the growth comes to other issues,” said Hernandez.

City Manager Hernandez is ready to tackle those issues head-on. On Wednesday, city council members met to discuss growth and its future. ”

“We also need to ask the question along the lines of what type of amenities do our current and future residents expect of the city,” said Hernandez.

The best way to do it would be to get more businesses to Cape Coral so that the people who live there can work there. The goal is to create more commercial space.

Ricardo Noguera is the economic development manager for the city.

“The average city needs a mix. You need at least 40% of your land to focus on non-residential development to have a well-balanced budget and to create an environment where your residents can live and work in the same community,” Noguera said. “Cape Coral has a 92/8 split so it’s a real challenge.”

In order to fix that, they have to also have to fix the infrastructure mentioned.

“I think we’re also seeing another part of the city that once we go in and we invest in infrastructure and whether it’s water and sewer and irrigation or sidewalks, Street Lights, things of that nature, that has an explosive effect on residential development also,” Hernandez said.

And that’s the goal: planning for the future. Now it’s up to city leaders to figure out how to implement these priorities from the people they serve. This planning project is expected to take several months.

The city also plans to bring in a team from the urban land institute to conduct that research that will ultimately help Cape Coral figure out how to accomplish its goals. That is expected to cost about $135,000.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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