Thursday, February 01, 2007


Residents ‘chip shot’ concerns to mayor; Golf Club’s future highlight of meeting


As a 17-year-old he took his first swing at The Golf Club. On Wednesday Mayor Eric Feichthaler listened to residents tee off about its future.

The head of city government held the second town hall meeting of his tenure with an abundance of questions geared towards one of Cape Coral’s oldest pieces of property.

“It’s the first place I ever golfed with my grandfather,” Feichthaler said. “When it’s not in our control, it has been a challenge.”

The closed course is owned by private investors who are trying to sell the land in upwards of $25 million, according to Feichthaler.

He would eventually like to see the area turned into a destination resort hotel and golf course that would bring tourism to the city.

“We are working very hard to find a developer to come in and restore the course and put something nice there that can be a benefit to the residents,” Feichthaler said. “We would not like to see 700 houses spring up on the golf course. My number one priority is to keep it an open space.”

The audience members gave a large round of applause to show they were in agreement with the mayor’s comments.

“Of course we’d like to see a golf course — possibly a golf course with a luxury resort hotel would be OK or a park would be great for everyone to enjoy,” said Mary Meilson, a resident who lives near the course. “We just want some closure. We just want something to be done.”

One issue brought up that caught the mayor off guard discussed an arts facility planned several years ago.

City Manager Terry Stewart explained the planned building located near city hall is no longer feasible for the arts facility because costs of construction had tripled.

Still, Feichthaler said, more needs to be done to bring the arts into town.

“What we don’t think about a lot is the cultural void we have in the city,” Feichthaler said. “We really don’t have the culture the city our size should have.”

The mayor said he wants to see smaller theatres built in the downtown area and a larger venue, possibly through a partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University.

“We do need to focus on partnering with someone like FGCU to build a real theater facility,” Feichthaler said. “To me people are looking for culture whether its baseball or ballet. It would have had an enormous economic impact.”

The continuing battle over the high cost of utility assessments managed to creep into the items discussed with several questions.

Joan and Rick Sadlowski, of Cape Coral, were concerned about younger homeowners in the community not being able to afford the large fees.

“We have a family member who is just starting out, how can they afford to pay $30,000 or $40,000?” Mrs. Sadlowski asked.

Feichthaler shared their concerns, having recently had to pay his own assessments as well, but he wanted people to know there are options, including paying off the fees over a period of 20 years.

About 80 people showed up to the two-hour question and answer session.

“It was great,” Feichthaler said. “The turnout exceeded what I expected. The questions were excellent.”