CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A normal Cape Coral workshop regarding the future of Jaycee Park quickly erupted into controversy Wednesday after resident Scott Kempe was escorted out by police.
“So I'm there just starting to fume,” said Kempe.
A day later, he said that simmer to a boil happened when he turned around in his seat, refusing to face Cape Coral City leaders.
Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter told Kempe to turn around, or he would be removed.
“I resisted being escorted... but I did not throw any punches which is why I was not arrested or anything,” said Kempe.
A spokesperson for the city says staff was within their legal right to remove Scott Kempe from the workshop.
Below is the full statement from the City of Cape Coral.
The Mayor and City Council have enacted Rules that govern the manner, process, and procedures to be utilized during the City Council Meeting in order to promote an orderly system of holding such a public meeting and conducting the official business of the City. In that regard and to ensure compliance with these Rules and the orderly conduct of business by the City Council, an individual is not permitted to behave in a disorderly manner, make profane gestures, or refuse to follow the instructions of the Mayor or City Council which seek to ensure compliance with the Rules that govern the City Council’s official proceedings.
Therefore, an individual’s refusal to comply with the City Council Rules will give rise to that person being escorted from the City Council Meeting Chambers by the Cape Coral Police Department.
While saving Jaycee Park for Kempe did not become a legal battle, saving the park's invasive trees, which city staff have said need to be removed for redevelopment, Kempe said is unacceptable.
“Let me guess, I'm supposed to accept tearing down 40 or 50-foot trees that provides shade,” said Kempe.
He told Fox 4 his actions at the workshop reflect how city leaders make him feel.
“You’re gonna turn your back on us, I'm going to turn my back on you,” said Kempe.
He said the park is important to him, especially as a bench commemorating his late wife sits within it.
City of Cape Coral staff are recommending planting 425 new trees after the invasive pines are removed.
City staff also recommended adding a bandshell, splash pad and Bistro to the park.
All of these recommendations will still need to be voted on by Cape Coral City Council.
On October 18, City Staff is expected to begin the design of the updated concept, before scheduling anther open house to show the design.