Take it or leave it?: State delivers on Bonita Springs buyback program after Hurricane Irma

Reporter: Nicole Gabe
Published: Updated:
FILE – Bonita Springs after Hurricane Irma (WINK News)

Hurricane Irma rained down on Bonita Springs, in particular, Quinn Street and Downs Drive.

“It was terrible because it took quite a long time before we were able to actually get any help,” said Bonita Springs homeowner, Rodney Malone.

For months, Bonita Springs talked with homeowners here about buying their homes so that what happened to them before never happens again. But, there was a catch: the state had to come through with the cash.

On Tuesday, that’s exactly what happened. They showed up with $5 million.

“We are looking to solve a problem and the logic of that is to take the land back, let the water work with the land, let the water be remediated, let it be used for water storage and retention,” said the city’s Mayor Peter Simmons.

He said those who said they’d be interested in selling their homes then are eligible to sell now.

“We’ll go through those applicants and work through an appraiser to get a fair market value of their home,” said Simmons.

But other homeowners want no part of the buyback program.

“They wanted to just give it to us at the market of 2017 before the floods, the market that it is today it is almost $100,000 short,” said Malone.

“I don’t see where it is a good practical set up for the homeowner,” said homeowner Robert Weimerskirch.

Others said they’ve waited for this day for a long time.

“I would not stay here they would have to come up with some sort of miracle to keep this place not flooding,” said resident Richard Shaw.

The mayor said once the city takes over ownership of the homes, the plan is to knock them down.

The city approached 200 homeowners Tuesday. Only 74 of them applied for the buyback program.

Next, the city will make an offer. Then it’s up to the homeowners to take it or leave it.

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