Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Citizen Letter to the Mayor & Council

November 29, 2016

Mayor and Council Members
City of Cape Coral
1016 Cultural Park Blvd.
Cape Coral  FL  33990

Dear Mayor and Council Members:

My wife, Denise, and I purchased a condo in the Banyan Trace development on Palm Tree Blvd. in
July 2015. We are planning on only staying the winters for the time being, but eventually, we hope to
become permanent residents of Cape Coral. As you know, the Banyan Trace condominiums are
surrounded by the former Cape Coral Golf Course.
Before making comments, we would like to give you some background information on our experience.
Denise has seven years’ experience in the Finance Department of city government and for the past 20
years has been a Partner in Public Administration Associates, LLC, (PAA). PAA has served several
municipalities as a consultant on a wide range of concerns, but most of our consulting experience has
been to assist municipalities and counties in the recruitment of professional administrators. So far, we
have assisted over 230 governmental bodies in recruiting their administrators; most of which have been
in Wisconsin or neighboring states, although a few years ago we assisted Crystal River, Florida in their
recruitment of a new City Manager. You can get further information about us and about P AA at our
, www.public-administration.com.
I have an extensive background in city engineering, planning and management. I started my municipal
career as the City Engineer of Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1962. They didn't have a city planner and I was
moved into that role along with my engineering duties. Being young and ambitious, the Mayor and
City Council added duties throughout my six-year tenure, which included being Public Works Director
as well as Assistant City Manager. I was designated as the Acting City Manager in
1967 and shortly
, I decided that the career I wanted was in City Management. Subsequently, I served as the
City Manager of Newton
, New Jersey; Shawnee, Oklahoma and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. After 20 years’ service as the City Manager of the City of Oshkosh, I retired in 1996.  Denise and I then formed our
consulting businesses, P AA as well as an Enginee
ring and Land Surveying business, (Frueh Consulting Services, LLC). (I am also a licensed Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor in Wisconsin.)
Being familiar with city operations, before purchasing the condo in Banyan Trace, we were concerned
about the future of the former golf course. We consulted the city's comprehensive plan and found that
the golf course was designated for redevelopment. It was to be purchased by the City of Cape Coral
and used for park and open space purposes. The redevelopment plan was updated in 2014, (a year
before our purchase), and it again noted that the plan was for city purchase and use for open space
In good faith, we made our investment relying on the City of Cape Coral plans
. We now

find out that this trust is threatened to be misplaced and that the city is considering modifying the plan so that the approximately 175 acres of the former golf course would be redeveloped into single family housing.
In our opinion, the possibility of purchasing the old Cape Coral Golf Course represents a unique
opportunity to the city government. We are impressed with the obviously good city planning that has
served Cape Coral so well in the past. We were amazed to learn of the rapid growth of the city and we understand that the "build out" population of Cape Coral is projected to be about 500,000. Since it is such a great place to live, we are confident that the city will meet that expectation sometime in the
In my many years working as a City Manager in four city governments and knowing of experiences in
many cities throughout the United States, I find one phenomenon to be true. No city has ever regretted
purchasing land for future parks.
It might be controversial at the time of purchase, but a few years
later, you inevitably hear laudatory comments about the wisdom and foresight of civic leaders who
took the risk of purchasing property for city parks. (Think of New York City and Central Park.)
As an example, in 1871 Oshkosh, Wisconsin had no parks. Mayor E.E. Stevens purchased 40 acres
abutting Lake Winnebago for $20,000. It was very controversial and Mayor Stevens was hounded out
of office because of the park purchase. Over the years, the park (now called Menominee Park) was expanded and it now covers more than 175 acres. It is a multi-purpose park and is the "crown jewel" in the Oshkosh Park system. Everyone in Oshkosh now gratefully remembers Mayor Stevens, in fact a few years later, around 1920, a neighborhood park was created
not far from Menominee Park and it was named Stevens Park in honor of the man who had the vision to create this now much appreciated city asset.
In Denise's and my opinion, you as the leaders this beautiful city of Cape Coral face a similar
opportunity represented by the 175 acres of the former golf course. A comprehensive plan could be developed for the area which could reflect the wishes of your citizens.
Also, having an inventory of under-utilized land is always a wise plan for city government,
Immediately, the area could be used for park and open space uses. As public officials, you know that
future opportunities always present themselves. Before reaching the built-out population of 500,000,
how many times will there be requests for additional land and buildings to accommodate the need for
public works and utility services or other cultural needs besides park land? (Perhaps a horticultural par
k or botanical gardens). Literally, you never presently know the opportunities that the future will present for the growth of the city, and having an inventory of land available to accommodate those opportunities would allow you to take advantage of those future opportunities.
I urge you to fulfill the expectation of city purchase and use as park/open space uses, as reflected in the City’s South Cape Downtown Redevelopment Plan; which is still on record as being valid, even as I write this letter.
At the risk of being presumptuous, if I were your City Manager and with your approval and permission, I would be exploring ways of financing the purchase of the former golf course. There are several federal, state and private grants for park land purchases. I am not familiar with Florida laws, but in many states development impact fees are levied against new housing subdivisions and developments. A Parks Impact fee could be levied on future developments to finance the city's share of the cost. Perhaps a public fund raising effort would be appropriate to fund part of the purchase. I would be happy to volunteer to work with your city staff in devising a funding plan for the purchase for no

Thank you for your consideration. We will be in Cape Coral until next April. If you have any
questions, please feel free to contact us. Our Cape Coral address is
: 4007 Cape Coral Blvd., Unit 208,
and my cell phone number is 920-216-2130.
Respectfully submitted,

William D. Frueh, Partner
Public Administration Associates, LLC

Cc:  John Szerlag, City Manager

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