An open house and input session regarding Bimini Basin drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Yacht Club Wednesday, where many turned out to support a Rubicon Canal cut through.
Representatives for Redevelopment Management Associates, the consulting firm working on the project, discussed what will be a "P3," a public-private partnership, and the five "drivers" that will determine what, if anything goes there: land, capital, regulation, markets and labor.
Lynn Dehlinger warned that if people are looking for something fancy, they may be disappointed.
"This may be less of a Cheesecake Factory area and more of a Golden Corral one. There are alternatives that can be a plus to the neighborhood," Dehlinger said.
Dehlinger cited Trader Joe's and Fresh Market as examples. These business look for specific demographics - populations of 150,000 within a five-mile area, with median family income of between $60,000 and $75,000.
"The median household income in Cape Coral is $42,000. The city doesn't pick the retail, the retail picks the city," Dehlinger said.
Concerns included water quality around the basin and amount of traffic and noise such a project could create in an area already affected now by both.
There was also concern about the fate of the mom-and- pop stores downtown and whether Bimini Basin would spur more fast-food restaurants and supermarkets, which Cape Coral Parkway already has.
Much of the public discussion, though, centered around the Rubicon.
Bimini Basin has been in the crosshairs of city officials for years, but none of the plans of the past have gone anywhere. Resident Al Phelps was among the handful who said the city seems to continue to spin its wheels on the project, with those on each side of Cape Coral Parkway impeding any progress.
"I see divisiveness. Those in the Bimini Basin area don't want the Rubicon to cut through because those south of Cape Coral Parkway paid more to have easier access to the gulf. I was told the Rubicon would be cut through when I bought my property."
Phelps has collected stories from print publications regarding Bimini Basin from as far back as 2004, and he said the city needs to make Rubicon a priority and not Southeast 47th Terrace.
"This issue has been batted around for 17 years. What disturbs me is we spend $9 million on sidewalks downtown. It would cost $8 million to cut through the Rubicon. It doesn't jive," Phelps said.
Steve Yurkovic said they need to decide on the Rubicon once and for all because everything else would be affected, cut-through or not
"They're talking about things way ahead of when they should be. They need to settle this first," Yurkovic said. "If you're going to open the canal and build a bridge, do you know what kind of space that will take up?"
For those on the Rubicon, they have to take the scenic route to get to where they need to be to access the gulf.
Meanwhile, residents were again invited to post their desires on five posters that read "Preserve, Enhance, Expose, Capitalize and Invest."
For all those worried about the city spending money on consultants, Mayor Marini Sawicki loved what she saw, especially as this could be part of her legacy as mayor.
"I love this. They call themselves an implementation team, and it's important the residents give them feedback on the issues they need to know about. We don't need a project for a certain group, but for everyone," Sawicki said.
RMA will work on a new plan in the next few months, which it will bring back to the city for consideration. They also plan to promote the site to prospective businesses.