Cape Coral longer bar hours update

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CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Will it bring in more money or create problems for police?
We’re learning a plan to extend bar hours in Southwest Florida’s biggest city could fall flat.

It affects the south Cape Coral entertainment district, along Cape Coral Parkway about a mile west of the bridge.

Three council members are against a plan to extend bar hours on the weekends. Other council members are for a trial period to see what happens.

It’s a big discussion that could end up changing the landscape of Cape Coral. Should bars and restaurants in downtown Cape be allowed to stay open until 4 a.m. on weekends?

“People are getting more inclined to go out to dinner later,” said Shannon Yates with Nevermind Bar and Eatery.

Yates tells WINK News, he likes the idea.

“It really will put Cape Coral on the map as far as a weekend destination,” said Yates.

Thursday night, Cape Council members debated the issue. Councilman Richard Leon will now work with city staff and start drafting the ordinance.

Leon tells WINK News, bars and restaurants would have to pay for at least one off duty police officer to patrol the area.

“Pay a certain amount, be it monthly or weekly, to pay for the officer to be there,” said Leon.

Bar owners who spoke to WINK News say they are okay with paying for the officers.

“If we think there is real life there, I think that we as restaurant and bar owners need to come up with a group scenario to pay for it,” said Yates.

WINK News is learning extended hours may only be temporary. A couple council members, including the mayor, like the idea of a pilot program.

“Pilot program? This is not a pilot program, this is a law we are creating,” said councilman Jim Burch.

Councilman Burch is strongly against it and says when the time comes that they see the program isn’t working, it is too late.

In the end tonight’s meeting eased a few other members concerns.

“I have a little bit better comfort where the direction is going,” said councilwoman Rana Erbrick.

There is no set time frame of when the ordinance will be presented to council for a final vote.

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