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Boat ramp feasibility study OK’d

By Staff | Apr 12, 2016

Despite some opposition, City Council voted 5-3 Monday night to go forward with a feasibility study for boat ramp improvements on city-owned property at the Matlacha boat ramp at D&D Marina.

City staff asked council for approval to apply for a Florida Boating Improvement Program grant in the amount of $67,500 to design improvements for the safety of boaters using the North Spreader canal system.

“This is exactly what I had in mind when we purchased that property (four) years ago,” said Councilmember Rana Erbrick. “We did it to give residents more water access, so this makes perfect sense. It is a heavily used ramp and we need to go forward with this to make it safer because we can. It will give us great data to use if we decide to sell the property.”

Assistant City Manager Mike Ilczyszyn told council that the D&D ramp is the most used ramp the city has with an average of 388 launches per month.

“In the slow months D&D launches half of all boats in the city,” Ilczyszyn said. “In season, more boats are launched there than all of the other ramps in the city combined. We actually will reduce the number of launches there because a boat ramp is restricted by the number of parking spaces available for trailers.”

The vacant property to the east of D&D Bait & Tackle was purchased by the city in 2012 along with the Seven Islands area for $13 million. The property is said to be valued at $3.4 million in the Lee County Property Appraiser’s data base.

The grant money will provide the city with information on the best use of the property, whether it is for a boat ramp or other use. The property is located in Lee County, but some on council want the city to annex it to get the tax revenue if they decide to sell it instead.

Staff proposes to move the boat ramp from D&D east where the spreader meets a blind corner as it turns north near Sirenia Vista Park. Boaters say the blind corner already is unsafe and, with a strong current, adding a launch ramp there would make matters worse.

“We call it ‘Crash Corner’ on boat radios,” said resident David Scott. “You couldn’t pick a worse spot.”

Councilmember Rick Williams, who represents the district where the ramp is located, agrees.

“I boat in that area all the time,” he said. “There could not be a worse place in Cape Coral for a boat ramp. There has to be a better use for this property. I’m totally against this.”

Councilmembers Marilyn Stout and Richard Leon sided with Williams, who cast the three dissenting votes.

“It makes sense to get the feasibility study done,” said Councilmember Jim Burch. “It will provide us more information about the property if it is sold.”

Two other resolutions before council Monday night sailed through with no discussion.

A new roof for Fire Station 2 at the intersection of Nicholas Parkway and Cultural Park Boulevard was approved at a cost of $73,000. The oldest station in the city is not scheduled to be replaced until after 2021.

Council also approved a five-year contract with Taser International to continue the Police Department program to purchase body cameras for its patrol officers. The resolution calls for the purchase of 60 cameras in 2016 and 60 in 2017 plus Taser weapon upgrades to newer X2 models. The contract will cost the city just over $710,000 over the five years.

The city purchased its first body-worn cameras for officers in late 2014.

Council’s next regular meeting is Monday in City Hall.