People speak out at city council meeting for Cape Coral Yacht Club

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Cape Coral City Council is hosting a meeting to discuss the fate of the Cape Coral Yacht Club.

Wednesday evening, a line of people were standing outside of the room, waiting to give a public comment. A majority spoke on behalf of the yacht club.

WINK News spoke with one of the public speakers before the meeting started, who said, “We have lost so much, and I don’t think it’s feasibly acceptable to let this go by the wayside and be destroyed.”

People are calling on the city council to do everything they can to preserve this building, practically begging them not to take the last piece of history left in Cape Coral.

“It’s something to be celebrated and preserved, not destroyed,” a public speaker said.

They called the yacht club the heart of this community up until Hurricane Ian.

Many spoke about the historical significance of the ballroom.

“My first job was there at the Yacht Club. This means something to us,” another public speaker said.

Former council member Gloria Tate spoke during public comments. Tate said she applied to the state to get the building designated as historic.

Tate read the correspondence from the state saying, “It is highly likely that we will have historic preservation.”

Council Member Dan Sheppard told the crowd he tried to preserve the yacht club for years but never had any support.

“There was no interest in protecting any of that. Now, all of a sudden, it’s the most important thing,” Sheppard said. “The building is literally shot, in decay… to the point of it not even being safe anymore.”

Council member Patty Cummings said others are to blame for the years of neglect when it comes to the yacht club.

“Why haven’t you done fundraisers to fix these problems, so they’re not out of control? And now we’re looked at like we’re the bad guys,” Cummings said.

Council Member Bill Steinke said the deferred maintenance cost alone for the ballroom, which is $2.5 million, puts the building over the 50 percent rule. That doesn’t include damage from Hurricane Ian.

“Forget whether is $25,000 worth of damage, or $250,000 caused by the hurricane. The 50% rule applies to things other than damage. It also applies to improvement,” Steinke said.

The city attorney said the last assessment done on the property to see how much it would cost to renovate the building was done in April of 2022.

Council Member Cosden asked the city manager if a new assessment can be completed to have updated numbers to factor into this process.

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