Presidents Updates for August 2023
The heat index this summer in many areas of Cape Coral has been unprecedented. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to go offshore into the Gulf of Mexico to find 92-degree surface water temperatures 27 miles due west, from Boca Grande Pass. Heading back home, my Garmin navigation system displayed a 102-water temperature in Matlacha Pass heading south toward the bridge, last week.
Excessive heat can slow your pace or take your will to get things done. NOT the case here with our loyal group of volunteers serving the NWNA.
Since our May 2023 General Open Meeting featuring Interim City Manager, Mike Ilczyszyn, much has been accomplished. This President's Update will be quite extensive, so get comfortable here at home or at your summer residence abroad.
In June, we met with Mike Ilczyszyn at City Hall to pursue permitting from Florida DEP to grant signage installation and maintenance work in “The Key Ditch”. This initial phase of work is required to establish a marked canal access pathway from Crystal Lake to the Two Pines channel in Charlotte Harbor. This project will extend the Calusa Blueway Kayak trail to Crystal Lake Park, a boat, and kayak launch, which is in the bidding process. To complete this work, additional permitting for the pruning of hurricane-damaged mangrove branches overhanging into The Key Ditch impacting egress will need to be addressed to create unobstructed access.
On August 7th, Mike and I visited with the Interim Manager of Charlotte Harbor, Nicky Ross from Florida DEP to discuss the signage permitting and work in The Key Ditch. The office visit ended with a site visit tour of Crystal Lake, NWNA proposed “Trappers Trail” which connects Crystal Lake's northern walkway with the City of Cape Coral’s property on the shore of Charlotte Harbor. The tour ended at the entry to The Key Ditch on the Spreader Canal just south of Jacaranda Parkway at the end of NW 31st Street. Permit Applications are to be filed with FLDEP.
NWNA has received funding and permission to remove rocks in The Key Ditch to prevent damage to shallow draft boats. The donation and funding were made possible by Ed Stafford, the developer of proposed community North Cape Estates on the spreader canal between NW 42nd Place and NW 41st Ave off Gulfstream Parkway. The contractor A-1 Seawalls and Docks provided a very budget conscious bid to provide the work. THANK YOU, ED STAFFORD, AND A-1 SEAWALLS for supporting NWNA and our members. This work will be scheduled in a few weeks. NWNA Waterways Chairman, John Bashaw was responsible for the fundraising, securing the contractor and provided the vision for “The Trappers Trail”.
Permits for Crystal Lake Park development have been received and all work is out to BID. Please review the site plan at Crystal Lake on the Cape Coral City website for the most recent renderings. Please focus on the boat ramp and launch egress into the spreader canal system. This will be an area of public use to include restrooms and facilities. If you have visited or utilized the Burnt Store Boat Ramp just south of Embers Parkway off Burnt Store Road (almost 6 miles to the south) , you will undoubtedly realize this existing boat ramp can be a busy place at times. Having additional access to the spreader at Crystal Lake Park on Caloosa Parkway will fill a void for those who wish to enjoy boating or kayaking in our quiet waters of the northern Lee County boarder spreader waterway. This new remote access offers wonderful recreation opportunities.
On July 11th, our District Council Member- Keith Long addressed our members and neighbors at the NWNA General Membership meeting held at the Kiwanis Club facility on Santa Barbara Blvd. The “Town Hall” style meeting provided all attendees the opportunity to engage in a one-on-one dialogue. Burnt Store Road corridor commercial zoning and Pine Island Road development dominated the subject matter. Standing in front of a crowd and handling rapid-fire questions and comments without a moderator for 60 solid minutes can be grueling. Those of you reading this who attended, know I tried to step in and give Keith a break. He was just fine relentlessly moving forward to handle everyone’s comments and questions. We are lucky to have Keith on our side representing the residents in the NW Cape. We have been represented well and the leadership of NWNA and Keith remain in close contact on the issues. Mayor Gunter attended our meeting to spend time listening to the concerns raised by attendees. We appreciated his support and for attending.
Watch the July 11th meeting Video - Click Here
Cape Coral Police Department was represented. Members of the newly formed “Cape Coral Community Policing Unit” attended and educated attendees of this new initiative established by the department
I was asked to speak at the August 10th, Southwest Cape Coral Action Committee (SWCCAC)-General Members Meeting at The Omelet Shop in Cape Coral. Steve Collins, President of SWCCAC introduced me to the membership and my presentation was geared toward seeking residents to show up at City Council Meetings to support or oppose important issues. Consider volunteering or being part of a committee. Don’t Be a Wasn’t- quoting Dr. Suess. I made it clear that the NWNA is open to exploring synergistic collaboration with the SWCCAC. The NWNA is forging new relationships with Interim City Manager, Mike Ilczyszyn and Florida DEP. Together we can work toward the protection and preservation of the estuary and find responsible ways to expand the recreational use of our waterways.
Don Apking, President of Friends of Cape Coral Environment, Non-Profit 501 (c) 3 announced with Council Member- District 2, Dan Sheppard of a planned partnership to reduce the costs of Median Beautification. “A million dollars per mile” cost index was shared, to accommodate the costs associated with development, irrigation, and installation of plant material of medians. Plans are in the works to significantly reduce this burden. Toward this end, we learned through Dan Shepard the city has invested in curb machines to cut costs with the reliance of outside contractors. DPW will be trained and utilize the new equipment.
Council Member, Dan Sheppard shared an interesting point that really resonated with me. Dan mentioned the importance and impact of any effort to increase the value of residential homes in our city. Many of our residents and members in NW Cape have voiced displeasure of the abundance of dollar store and storage unit development. I have been a vocal opponent. The increase of the median price of homes in a community greatly impacts marketing demographics. Reaching a certain plateau on the median price index scale deters future development of these types of applications. There is also data supporting the closures of existing stores. Important factors for us to consider. SMART Development in the NW Pine Island Corridor and along Burnt Store Road North is paramount.
Many good things have come from our May 2023 General Membership Meeting with Mike Ilczyszyn. The working relationship with the Florida DEP is promising, as I mentioned in the past paragraphs. We also requested NWNA representation at the 7 Islands Development Meetings held each month with Forest Development and the Economic Development City Staff of Cape Coral. After securing permission from the developer, we were invited to these important meetings. Development Review Committee Chairman, John Smart and I attended our first meeting in August 2023.
I believe we were well received. Our goal is to offer guidance and collaboration on a true local level to help produce the greatest waterfront community in all of SW Florida. A special destination offering access to marine life, estuary life and offering a Florida lifestyle, until now, found only in a dream.
Keep in mind that the 7 Islands property has not officially closed yet. A significant investment in engineering studies on land and in the waterways has been realized. The takeaway from our first meeting is the developer has demonstrated a commitment to attention to detail. The architect is very engaged and seems to bring the project to life as he shares his vision. John Smart and I will share information as it becomes available from the developer and this city.
In early November, NWNA is planning an evening indoor/ outdoor social gathering at an area restaurant. On our invitation list to engage with NWNA Members and neighbors of our community will include-
- Developers Defining NW Cape
- Business Leaders
- Elected City Officials
- Elected County Officials
- Advocacy and Civic Groups
I look forward to seeing you at our next General Membership Meeting this fall. Stay cool and stay connected.
Kind Regards, Jerry