Fort Myers negotiations with Suntex leaving some uneasy at the yacht basin

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
Fort Myers Yacht Basin with signs not approving of SunTex. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Some people that live aboard boats in the Fort Myers Yacht Basin are scared of what will happen to them if the city picks the company Suntex to develop the waterfront.

Many who call the yacht basin home are displaying S.O.S. signs on their boats. In this case, S.O.S. stands for ‘Save Our Slips’.

Neighbors and business owners at the basin have no idea what their future holds. At the same time, the ongoing negotiations between the city of Fort Myers and Suntex continue.

WINK News reached out to city councilman Liston Bochette for an update on the negotiations. He said the only update is that Suntex announced they’re going public with an I.P.O., which has the potential to impact the city negatively. It’s also a concern for yacht basin residents.

Steve Gotham is a marina resident. He said, “When you get a big corporation involved, that’s all about a return on investment. It’s all about impacting the stockholders. It has very little to do with us.”

Two people who call the yacht basin home spoke with the mayor Wednesday. They said he asked them to be patient as the negotiations continue. But, marina neighbors like Victor Coletta feel like they’re being kept in the dark.

“The city council people have to think about what it would be like for them to come home one day and say, ‘hey, guess what, somebody is buying your neighborhood, and you have to leave,'” Coletta said.

In this case, no news is not good news for people like Marcia Schwalm, who owns a business in the marina.

“My lease is over August 30th. That’s a big concern,” Schwalm said. “So, what happens to not only I but the other people that are losing their lease that have no say in what’s gone on?”

They’d like to see the city maintain this historical and valuable asset. Because they fear the major changes could get hung up in the permitting process, and neighbors would be stuck in limbo.

“We’ll have our rates increased and we’ll have everything maintained the same; status quo. And why? That’s why the city should maintain the marina,” Schwalm said.

Neighbors said they plan on holding community discussions at the Fort Myers Yacht Basin every Wednesday. The meetings are both to keep people updated on the proposal and to encourage people to speak up at city council meetings.

The city manager has said if the city and Suntex cannot agree on the terms of their negotiations, the city can move forward with another developer.

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