History of Cape Coral
In 1957, two brothers, Leonard and Jack Rosen, purchased 103 square miles of Southwest Florida with the dream of creating a new city. Two years later, the Rosens acquired an additional 15,000 acres to build their “water wonderland.” The area, originally known as Redfish Point, was named Cape Coral, just because “it sounded good.”
The Rosen’s idea was a community that would grow according to a plan, balanced to anticipate the needs of citizens and businesses. The impetus for this dream was the experience of others cities that had failed to plan and had to compromise their ideals as they grew.
Subsequently, the community took shape: the largest concentration of earth moving equipment in Florida was brought in to excavate canals and prepare home sites, commercial areas, and industrial districts. The result was an extraordinary network of navigable canals and waterfront home sites available for new residents to enjoy the best of Florida living. In 1970, Cape Coral was incorporated as a city.
The Cit of Cape Coral operates under the City Manager form of government. City council members are elected at large from seven districts. The mayor is also elected at large and is the eight member of council. The mayor presides over council meetings.
The City Council enacts ordinances and resolutions, adopts the budget, comprehensive plan and land-use regulations. The Council appoints the City Manager, City Auditor and City Attorney, as well as the members of all the boards and commissions. The City Manager hires all department directors and oversees the day-to-day operations of the city.
Council meetings are broadcast live on Channel 14, Cape TV, on Mondays at 5 PM. Channel 14 is available through Time Warner Cablevision. Cape TV is a 24-hour government-programming channel. For council agendas visit the city’s website at capecoralgov.org
Cape Coral’s Natural Inhabitants
The bald eagle is out country’s natural emblem. The bald eagle was chosen because of it’s majestic appearance, its ability to adapt, its strength, and its flight. Florida has the largest number of breeding bald eagles. Approximately 70% of the occupied nesting territories in the southeast are in Florida.
The bald eagle weighs 8-10 pounds with a wingspan of six to seven feet. Females are larger than males. The head and tails of adult eagles are white and their bodies are dark brown. Their eyes, feet and bill are yellow. Juveniles do not have the white head and tails. These young birds are brown with scattered white feathers.
Bald eat fish primarily but occasionally prey on small mammals and carrion. Eagles have been seen feeding on roadside kill alongside vultures.
Nesting season is October 1 through May 15. Eagles mate for life and use the same site year after year, if the territory is available and has not been degraded. The main threat to bald eagles is the loss of nesting habitat due to development.
In Cape Coral, City Ordinance 13-92 protects the eagles nest. This regulation establishes a nest management zone that extends 1,100 feet from each nest. Heavy outdoor construction is prohibited during eagle nesting season. The City may prohibit construction at any time within 350 feet of an eagle nest.
Bald eagles are endangered in all 48 continental states. They do not live in Hawaii, but are in Alaska. Because they were hunted/poached for their feathers, they are one of the most protected animals in the nation.
Cape Coral is home to several nests currently occupied by one or more eagles.
Cape Coral’s unofficial mascot is the burrowing owl. The burrowing owl is only 9 inches tall, has a short tail, very long legs and weighs about 4 ounces. Burrowing owls live in tunnels much like a rattlesnake or a gopher tortoise. The tunnels can be up to 10 feet long and wind around underground in an unpredictable pattern.
They usually nest in families of four to six. Cape Coral has the highest concentration of burrowing owls in the United States. Nesting season is from February through July. The owls feed on insects, frogs, snakes, lizards and rodents.
When approached too closely, they vocalize their resentment with a rasping “eeeech” and/or a “clucking” sound. They also use body language to try to look ferocious by bobbing up and down.
Anywhere you see a field with a group of three of four posts hemmed in by red, yellow or orange tape, stop and take a look! It’s a sure sign of an existing owl’s nest.
The gopher tortoise or “gophers” as they are commonly called live in extensive subterranean burrows much like a burrowing owl. Burrows can be up to 40 feet in length, which helps the gopher stay cool during the most scorching parts of the day. Gopher tortoises are gray, brown or tan in color. They have rounded oblong bodies reaching up to 14 inches in length. Their head is large and they have spade-like front feet that are used to excavate the tunneling burrow.
Gophers eat mostly grass and small plants. Mating season begins in early spring and is extremely competitive. Gophers emit a variety of noises to attract mates and scare off potential competitors.
Gopher tortoises can be found in wooded areas in the Northwest and Southwest Cape. You may also see them in the many fields along Burnt Store Road.