Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Dear Neighbors and Friends

As you recall, the area around the former golf course as well as the golf course itself were added to the Community Redevelopment Area in 2009. The reason for this annexation was to legally allow the CRA to purchase and manage the golf course, and to pay the debt on the purchase through the use of any normal increases in property taxes generated by our area that would go to the CRA and not to the City general fund.  The CRA is not a taxing body, but just gets the increase in taxes that occur because of increasing values.

And, though the owners of the golf course property are currently in litigation with the City, it is still the plan for the CRA to ultimately purchase and operate the golf course.

Now, Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz, the representative for our District 4, is proposing removing the area from the CRA, so that the tax revenue can be captured by the general fund and spent throughout the City.

I am asking you to e-mail City Hall to oppose any effort to remove the area from the CRA.  The CRA undertook the preservation effort at the request of the former City Council, and this City Council needs to understand the will of the people is to keep the area in the CRA and to keep the plan to acquire the land and operate a golf course on the site.

Please e-mail the City at Council@capecoral.net to ask that the area remain in the CRA, and to commend the CRA for the continued good work it is doing in making South Cape a better place for residents and visitors alike. Also, if your schedule permits, please attend the City Council Meeting on Monday, March 26th at 4:30 p.m. when this issue will be discussed to show your support for keeping the area in the CRA.

Feel free to copy, paste and share letter this with your friends and neighbors.




Don Ruane  News Press   druane@news-press.com

Redevelopment agency's powers to be subject of public hearing on Monday.

A struggle over control of the Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency’s power and money is headed to a public hearing March 26.

At issue is whether the City Council should run the agency or a volunteer board appointed by the council. Councilman Chris Chulakes-Leetz is sponsoring an ordinance that would shift the power to the council. He asked for comments from residents before the public hearing, which starts at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Shrinking the size of the CRA and giving the council power to approve large purchases or spending by the CRA are possible points to consider for a compromise, Chulakes-Leetz said during a workshop discussion Monday.

“It’s not my desire to slash and burn a dedicated group of individuals,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “We don’t have to kill the whole board. If we do this right, we can have some improved checks and balances.”

Complaints from residents about how the CRA spends its money and what it has accomplished prompted him to sponsor the ordinance, Chulakes-Leetz said.

The councilman said he’d like to take the area surrounding the 175-acre The Golf Club out of the CRA. It hasn’t produced any money or projects for the CRA since it was added in 2009, because of the decline in taxable property values. A portion of the property taxes from the city and Lee County help fund the CRA.

The council has to decide whether the city wants the taxes generated from the golf course area once real estate values rebound, Mayor John Sullivan said.

“The rasslin’ match is going be whether we want to spend the money or leave it up to the CRA,” Sullivan said.

The CRA is controlled by a seven-member board of volunteers appointed by the council.

“We don’t haphazardly make these decisions,” said CRA board Chairman Rich Greer, who noted that members have a combined 250 years of business experience.

“All the feedback I’ve been getting is you guys are being linked to the failures of the past,” Councilman Kevin McGrail said.

“They spend nothing more than what authorized to spend in their bylaws and statutes,” said Councilman Marty McClain, who is the council’s liaison to the CRA. He said he doesn’t know where the council will find the time to run the CRA, too
Greer said he was happy that the workshop remained a discussion and did not become adversarial.
“I want to build bridges. I don’t want to build walls,” Greer said. The council and the CRA are working better together than ever, he said
The CRA will improve its communication with council, Greer said. Better communication could have avoided the current situation, he added.