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Cape council ready for donnybrook over fishing ordinance

By Staff | Apr 2, 2012

While the Cape Coral City Council didn’t take Councilmember Kevin McGrail’s proposed ordinance to ban fishing from certain bridges very seriously when he brought it up two weeks ago, certain members of the community did.

And they want the ordinance passed yesterday instead of next week, when it is expected to come to a vote.

Numerous Cape residents who live near bridges where anglers hang their poles came to the council workshop Monday night at City Hall to say the ordinance is necessary.

In fact, if they had a complaint, they said the proposal didn’t go far enough.

Among the complaints they had was not only the noise and the trespassing, but also the illegal parking, threats from other fishermen when confronted, and having to pick up feces and condoms off their property when the anglers left.

McGrail’s ordinance would ban fishing from 10 bridges in town, five of them on Old Burnt Store Road. Fishing would be permitted in designated areas of town.

Two weeks ago, the council, Mayor John Sullivan in particular, pretty much panned the idea.

But when residents came during the public input portion of the meeting, it seemed the council would have a tougher decision than it envisioned.

Nate Bliss, an Old Burnt Store Road resident, said he had pictures of some of the unsavory things he’s seen on his property from anglers, but couldn’t show them in public. That didn’t stop him from mentioning them.

“I’ve had to bury human feces, condoms and used diapers. People need to be aware of what’s happening,” Bliss said. “People are on my dock fishing. I’m concerned with liability and the possibility of altercations.”

Another resident did show pictures.

“These aren’t residents. They are from Fort Myers, Tampa. I’ve had things thrown at me, and there are those without poles who aren’t there to fish.”

Joe Coviello showed a picture of a truck parked in the median of another bridge and said many fishermen pick the oysters off the seawall to use as bait, which is illegal.

“When they run out of oysters on the sea wall, they go to homes to harvest there,” Coviello said.

He also added the ordinance didn’t go far enough.

“If you just make it 10 bridges, they’ll go somewhere else. Make it all the bridges,” Coviello said.

Not everyone was there to support the ordinance. Charley Myers showed some “Google earth” pictures of some of the bridges in question and noted many of the properties were vacant and had no residents or one resident.

“It’s a tough resolution to figure out. People come here to fish and have fun in the sun,” Myers said.

A young resident said he’s fished from the bridges most of his life and didn’t want to see anything happen.

“We have a city that says it loves its waterways and we’re taking away that water,” he said. “We need our police to enforce our laws.”

As for enforcement by police, Officer Jason Criazzo said it’s a tough chore with everything else they have to do.

“It’s a quality of life issue and for the last six months it’s been acute,” Criazzo said. “The problem is you enter into selective enforcement, you’re like a kindergarten teacher ‘you’re good, you’re bad.'”

Sullivan understood, but he reinforced his position.

“I’ve seen rights taken away from the people and it’s happened to people who want to fish,” Sullivan said. “We need to get the police units out and hit them hard. This isn’t a good first step.”

McGrail was also firm in his stance, saying it’s time for the city to get with the times.

“This isn’t the Cape Coral of 20 years ago. Back then there weren’t any houses in the north, now there are.” McGrail said.