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Parking an issue for downtown streetscape project

September 27, 2017
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The streetscaping project on Southeast 47th Terrace might look nice, but businesses owners along that street are afraid they may have to throw in a few "Going Out of Business" signs as part of the deal.

The city of Cape Coral held a meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the project at Vineyard Community Church, where residents got to see the concepts, meet the movers and shakers of the project and voice their opinions and concerns, of which there were many.

The project will impact Southeast 47th Terrace from Del Prado Boulevard to Coronado Parkway. It will feature a more pedestrian-friendly layout which will reduce the width of the street, add crossing areas, eliminate side-street parking and make for a slower but a safer driving experience, according to Jeffrey Satfield, vice president for CPH, an engineering firm doing the design of the project.

Article Photos

CHUCK BALLARO

Jeffrey Satfield, vice president of CPH Engineering, speaks during the public meeting for the Southeast 47th Terrace streetscape project at Vineyard Community Church on Tuesday.

The big problem businesses owners along that stretch had is the reduction of on-street parking in an area that is already short on parking spaces, and, with the elimination of parking spaces in front of their shops, they fear it could have a devastating impact on them.

Bill Corbett, city traffic engineer, said there will be a net loss of 119 on-street parking spaces, but designers were able to make up 79 of them through improvements on Club Square, another important element of the project, and other means.

Patrick Krieg, owner of Merrick's Seafood, said his customer base isn't going to walk down the street to buy fish or eat lunch, adding that the planned elimination of on-street parking has been in the works for years.

"We have limited spots in front of the building, especially for our elderly customers. Even this time of year, the municipal lot gets filled up before our customers can access it," Krieg said. "If you take our spots to Club Square, you might as well put a closed sign on our door."

Stacey Beaudry, owner of a hair salon on the terrace, said she thinks it will be beautiful when it's done, but also feared the parking situation.

"It will attract a lot of people down here, but there will be nowhere to park. I've been there for over 20 years and I've seen the pattern. Over the past couple seasons I haven't been able to find a parking spot for myself," Beaudry said.

Another issue was the proposed roundabout on Vincennes Boulevard and the ability for the blind to be able to navigate a new street.

Mike Ulrich, who is blind, said the roundabout will be very difficult to cross, even as the current situation on that street and Cape Coral Parkway are currently horrible.

Satfield said they would be going from a five-foot section that doesn't meet ADA requirements to an 18-foot section, most of which will be in ADA compliance. Most of the trees will be gone, and there will be mid-block crossings that will make drivers slow down and pay attention.

Ulrich wasn't convinced, and invited Satfield go out outside, blindfolded, and use the cane to show him how the roundabout crossing is done.

Most people said they believe it will be an aesthetically pleasing road. Linda Prince, a 25-year resident, said the new road will be an asset to the downtown area.

"It's a very positive thing. I hope we can make it happen. I've seen a lot of visions in the past and nothing has come of it, and I hope something comes of this one," Prince said. "Parking and Club Square will be issues. What's going to happen to the Farmer's Market? I have concerns about that."

The streetscape plan is expected to go to City Council by the end of the year. If approved, it is expected to take between nine months and a year to complete. The cost is estimated between $12 million and $13 million.

 
 

 

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