Last chance for appeals to Cape Coral’s Chiquita Lock removal

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Boaters sit with fingers and toes crossed as a busy boat lock in Cape Coral may be on the way out.

In February, WINK News told you that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a final decision on Cape Coral’s request to remove the Chiquita Lock. The problem at the time was that we could not access that decision.

We got an idea based on a draft notice the DEP filed saying the Cape could remove the lock.

It’s been 21 days since the public notice of the Chiquita Lock’s removal was published. The Chiquita Lock will be removed if no one has appealed the decision.

Boaters with small boats passed through the Chiquita Lock on Friday with ease Yachts had to take their time and be careful. Don Vuncannon understands that challenge.

“I have friends who have a sixty-foot yacht that lives on that side. And he has scratched his boat several times, trying to get through that lock. He’s got one inch on each side,” said Vuncannon.

While that’s not an easy task, neither is getting rid of the lock. Cape Coral has tried to do so for years. Vuncannon thinks it’s time. “I think it’s been a nuisance to that southwest side of Cape Coral. I really think it needs to come down.”

For the Chiquita Lock, time is money. WINK News obtained the maintenance costs for the lock since 2019, detailing every time work has been done. Going back to 2020, the city has spent $100,700 maintaining and repairing the lock.

When a manatee got pinned between the west gate and the wall last year, the city had to make emergency repairs totaling more than $4,000. There were also purchase orders for a new motor costing $2,700 and a new aluminum ramp for $2,200.

“They should get rid of it. Just for the cost of maintaining that. For no other reason. And most boaters, if not all of them, want it out,” said John Higginson.

DEP says it has not received any petitions for an administrative hearing to stop the removal but has received a request for a time extension to submit a petition and is reviewing that request.

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