Cape Coral continues to seek removal of Chiquita Lock, environmentalists oppose

Reporter: Breana Ross Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Chiquita Lock. Credit: WINK News.

The fight to keep the Chiquita Lock in Cape Coral is not over.

The City of Cape Coral made moves during its regular meeting Monday to retain an attorney, so it can continue to push for the lock’s removal.

Nearly a dozen people got up in front of Cape Coral City Council, asking them to stop and allow the lock to stay.

The battle over Chiquita Lock behind heated up, as the city voted to keep the same law firm that helped them argue for the removal of the lock to a state judge last year.

That judge ruled against the city.

Now, the city is preparing to spend more money for the same law firm to continue to remove the lock. That doesn’t sit well with those who want to keep it in place.

One by one, environmentalists took to the dais in protest of the city spending an estimated $100,000 for attorneys and experts to continue the fight to remove the Chiquita Lock. It’s something they say will harm the mangroves and the water quality.

“What they’re trying to do today is to start the process over again,” said Michael Hannon with the Matlacha Civic Association. “And they’re not starting the process over again by having a scientific inquiry about what the best thing is for the canals in Cape Coral.”

But the city says this is the best thing to reduce boat traffic jams, something boaters like John Miller see often.

β€œOn busy days, there can be, you know, 20 or 30 boats backed in the lock,” Miller said. β€œAnd it can be problematic for some people that drive.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will make the final decision on whether the city can remove the Chiquita Lock.

The city says the funds spent on the attorneys and experts will help them prepare for either outcome.

The city reminded people at the council meeting that it prioritizes preserving the environment and don’t believe the removal of the lock would hurt Cape Coral’s ecology. The city says it would only make for a smoother ride in a busy spot.

“We’re not bad guys,” Councilman Rock Williams said. “We’re just trying to do the right thing”

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