PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - It's your money and Punta Gorda taxpayers could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars to widen a canal lock. Boaters say the waterway, in Burnt Store Isles isn't wide enough and poses a safety risk, but others aren't sure a fix is worth the price.
"If you own a boat and have your boat at your home you have to go through the lock," said resident Peter Worthington.
There's only one way in and one way out for boaters who live in the waterfront community of Twin Isles County Club in Burnt Store Isles. "We have a 40-foot motorboat and we've been 'threading the needle' for 12-years going through the lock," Worthington said.
Large boat owners say the 17-foot opening, connecting the canal system to the rest of Charlotte County needs a wider stance and poses a safety hazard.
"It's tough because at that point you're subject to the wind to the tides and there's only so much you can do," he said. This week, the City's Canal Advisory Board suggested increasing the lock's width about 4-feet.
"Occasionally there is a problem, particularly with larger boats, that's only 17-feet and the biggest boats we have are 13 to 14-foot beams so there isn't a lot of clearance," said Joe Sabatino.
But some boat owners who operate smaller crafts say spending more than $100,000 to widen the gap is a waste.
"I would say the majority of the people do not have those large boats and would not be affected one way or the other," said boat owner Dan West.
The city will send out surveys to residents for more feedback on the issue. Only people who live along the water would pay for this project.