Lee County moving forward with plan to remove damaged, displaced boats

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Damaged boats in Lee County. (Credit: WINK News)

Countless boats are littered across the shoreline in Lee County and are not helping the Hurricane Ian recovery process.

WINK News is learning about where Lee County plans on taking the damaged and displaced boats.

The county already has a lease with a company called Safe Harbor for a marina named Waterway Estates.

While Safe Harbor builds that marina, they also want to help with hurricane recovery efforts. The plan is for them to take in derelict boats, triage them, and get them back on the water.

Damaged boats in Lee County. (Credit: WINK News)

It’s not a good look having damaged boats in mangroves, on top of vehicles, or crushing other boats. It’s a scene that is still hard to believe for many.

“It’s created this need to find a place to triage some of these boats so they can get back in the water and ultimately get to their final destination,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman.

Hamman knows the boating community needs help, so at Tuesday’s commissioner meeting, he pitched a solution. “This company called Safe Harbor Marina has already had a lease with us on this piece of property. They said, ‘look, we’re a marina company, we have a lease for marina on this piece of property, you have a need right now to get these boats repaired.’ How about we come together to see if we can do something to help the community.”

Peter Clark, the chief development officer for Safe Harbor Marinas, said the goal is to triage boats in good enough condition to be salvaged.

“We’re looking for a temporary use to store in triage boats because getting them off the shoreline. Getting them out of docks that are in current disrepair is very important to getting back to normal. Not only for our marinas before residents as well,” said Clark.

People like Dan Hamilton and Bob McCormick are all for the plan.

“Anything we can do to enhance the boat in (the) community, I think it’s a good thing,” said Hamilton.

“I believe with Dan 100%. It’s right in our backyard, but an emergency is an emergency, and we’re all here to help each other, so I’m all for it that’s all I can tell you,” said McCormick.

The marina can store up to 239 boats up to 50 feet in length. Triage turn time would be two to three months each.

Commissioners voted to move forward with the idea, but they will first need to amend the lease to allow for this use by the marina.

The county attorney must also allow an emergency use authorization for hurricane response.

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