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Bimini Basin mooring field three years out

By Staff | Jun 18, 2020

It has been two years since the Cape Coral City Council approved the creation of a mooring field in Bimini Basin, thus giving the city authority on those waters in the South Cape.

On Tuesday, at the Chester Street Resource Center, city officials and representative of STANTEC, the company designing the project, held an open house to give residents an update on the project.

Those who attended learned that the city is in the third inning of a nine-inning game, and that it may be as many as three years before they cut the ribbon on the mooring field of anchored vessels.

“After the City Council passed the ordinance in 2018, we’ve identified the next steps bringing this from being in the books to going through the process,” said city planning team coordinator Wyatt Daltry.

The city has had pre-regulatory meetings with the state and federal agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers, which Daltry said are the two big agencies. He said the feedback was positive and expected.

Two weeks ago, a Benthic survey was completed on the field, which identifies resources in the basin. The survey found an oyster hash at the mouth of the Rubicon Canal and a bed of seagrass off the shore of Four Freedoms Park. There was nothing found in the actual field itself, though it could provide a narrow airway for boats trying to enter and exit the field.

“If they found seagrass in the basin, we would really have to reevaluate what the field would look like,” Daltry said. “Finding nothing in the field area was a big deal.”

The field is expected to be nearly 400,000 square feet, or 9.17 acres. Daltry said the field should accommodate about 15 vessels that up to 35 feet long.

As approved, boats in the field will be allowed to stay for five days, leave for one, then be able to spend five more days (the 5-1-5 rule) to deter long-term stays and derelict boats.

Also, the daily fee is expected to be about $20 per day, with the possibility of a facility on city-owned property. Four Freedoms Park is the only such land in the basin area for that.

Those who came to the open house had questions and concerns. One person asked about the vessel limit, hoping there wouldn’t be congestion and partying.

Terri and Paul Madalinski had high marks for the field, saying it would be a huge improvement for the area.

“You’re cleaning up the waterways, stop boaters from dumping their waste. It will help when you have some regulations,” Terri said. “I don’t think there will be parties there. They’ll go to Picnic Island where a lot of boats can tie up.”

“This is good as a start. I would like for them to continue down 47th Terrace so it ties to downtown and make it walker friendly,” Todd said. “It takes baby steps. It’s better to do something.”

From this point, a geotechnical investigation, hydrographic survey, 30 and 60 percent drawings and a management plan need to be completed, which could take as long as nine months.

The state and federal permit applications are next, which could take as long as 18 months, followed by a decision on how the field will be administered (municipal, non-profit), construction documents, contract procurement and construction.

“There are a lot of questions Council is going to have to answer. Will Parks & Rec handle this? Will we have a dingy-dock of a pump-pout boat? Will it have on-site bathrooms?” Daltry said.

Many of these tasks can be done concurrently, which will reduce the timeframe to three years if everything falls right, Daltry said as a conservative estimate.