CRA chairman says city wants to disband agency
Four in Your Corner learning tonight of a proposal coming up at city hall to dissolve a downtown organization in Cape Coral. Video by fox4now.comvideo
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Fox 4 confirmed with the chairman of the Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency, or CRA, that the city wants it gone. He says that would move would hurt the city.
The CRA takes credit for the welcoming feel and tidy appearance of downtown Cape Coral. But behind the scenes things are getting messy, as the agency fights for its life. Last year, the city considered dismantling the CRA but a motion to deny the ordinace passed unanimously.
"If the CRA fails, if the downtown fails, it's my belief that the city will fail," said Rich Greer, the chairman of the agency, which was established in 1986. Greer says it's created about 100 businesses in the district.
But Mayor John Sullivan and other top city officials see it differently.
"There's a lot of money being plowed into it but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot happening," said Mayor Sullivan, who says he's leaning toward dissolving the CRA but open to hearing what they have to say
We're learning the most powerful person in the city, City Manager John Szerlag, says it's time for the CRA to go. Fox 4 finding out the plan would be for the city to take over the agency's responsibilities to make it a city-run entity.
"I think what the city manager is trying to do again is to become more efficient, get a bigger benefit for the taxpayers as far as their buck is concerned," explained Sullivan.
Greer says he found out about the plan to kill the CRA in a late day meeting. He repeated to Fox 4 what he was told.
"The city manager is going to go to city council to shut down the CRA as we know it," explained Greer.
Greer says the city can't afford not to have an agency devoted to generating business and continuing to improve the downtown. And he wants city hall to consider working with the CRA to change what it doesn't like, instead of just trying to get rid of it .
"Why is it we can't have communication in the city?" questioned Greer. "Why is it we can't sit down and create a win-win. It's always us against them. That's what it appears to me to be."
More details about this proposal are expected soon. And council will likely discuss it at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.