Who will pay for the Charlotte Harbor project?

Published: April 3, 2019 6:27 PM EDT

A massive turnout at the Punta Gorda city council meeting as hundreds are voicing their opinion on a new project that would give boaters an easier way to get out of Charlotte Harbor.

Some boaters are all for it while others who live in Punta Gorda wonder who is going to pay for it.

Andy Nickelson enjoys his home’s access to the water, even though he does not own a boat.

He is in favor of the city’s proposal to create “Buckley’s Pass,” which is an additional water access route that would connect the community’s canal system to Alligator Creek and provide better access to Charlotte Harbor.

“I am for the project,” Nickelson said. “But I am not for the way it is being proposed.”

“Right now, we have a 45 minute out this would probably cut back to like 15 to 20 minutes,” Diane Lange said.

Nearly 700 people spent their afternoon at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center. They are open to the idea of quicker access to the harbor, but the big question is who should pay.

“I am for it,” said Beverly Gladwin, of Punta Gorda Isles. “It’s just a matter of who is going to pay for it.”

Council members are expected to decide Wednesday whether to move forward with the project, look at a different source for funding or completely slash it all together. If they approve it, construction could begin as early as June.

It would cost $3 million and it could fall on a group of Punta Gorda Isles homeowners who the city said would directly benefit from the pass.

“Not just the people who are going to live around the pass,” Gladwin said, “everybody is going to use it.”

Many people, including Nickelson, said they are okay with contributing to the project as long as the cost is split evenly with everyone who has water access in Punta Gorda.

“We are not opposed to paying our share,” Nickelson said. “It’s just I don’t want to pay your share.”