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Cape Coral taking another look at extended bar hours

Posted at 2:12 PM, Jun 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 20:59:05-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- The idea of extended bar hours in Cape Coral isn't dead after all.

City Council members met Friday to talk about extending the pilot program that allowed bars in the entertainment district to stay open until 4 AM on the weekends.

Councilman Richard Leon used the meeting to guage whether other council members were open to discussing extending the hours again on the weekends.

In late March, Council voted 5-3 to not extend the pilot program for the 4 AM closing time.

"There's a viable option here, we just need to be able to pinpoint that and figure out what that is," Councilman Leon said.

Councilman Rick Williams, who was against the later closing time since the beginning, said with a presentation proving it's the right move for the city, he could move forward.

"Am I dead against it? No. But I'm willing to listen, and with better information and better marketing to the public, we might be able to pull this off," Williams said.

Williams' thoughts were the general consensus of the Council.

Residents like Debbie and Charles Guida, who moved to Cape Coral from Chicago three years ago, aren't on board.

"We picked this area primarily because it's one of the top ten places to live in the country. And now we have this," Debbie Guida  said.

"It's an invitation for trouble, and it just doesn't seem to make sense," Charles Guida said.

Former Cape Coral Mayor Joe Mazurkiewicz said crime didn't prove to be an issue during the pilot program.

"I'm not someone who wants to bring in Chicago to Cape Coral," he said.

Mazurkiewicz said the late hours brought more businesses and events downtown, boosting the entertainment district.

He asked council to give the businesses he's working with time to prove it.

"Give us an opportunity to establish the real economic benefits. Give us the opportunity to establish some real public safety guidelines, and let's put together a program that both benefits business and creates a safe environment for people of all ages," Mazurkiewicz said.

Council will discuss the issue in a few months after Councilman Leon and city staff sit down and draft an ordinance to re-extend the closing hours.