Punta Gorda Isles canal cut-through route chosen
PUNTA GORDA – City Council members are moving forward on a long-awaited project to increase Punta Gorda Isles boaters’ access to Charlotte Harbor. A cut-through, via Alligator Creek, would shorten the time it takes for boaters from the southern area, known as the "Bird Section" of PGI, to reach the harbor.
The $1.5 million project would dredge a 50-foot-wide waterway at the south end of Punta Gorda Isles to link the community’s canal system to Alligator Creek. It has been the subject of multiple public hearings and several years of debate leading to a standing-room-only crowd showing up at council chambers Wednesday morning to discuss the issue. Supporters say it would decrease the time it takes for boaters from the "Bird Section" of PGI to access the harbor, and it would raise property values. Opponents say it would create more traffic, and force non-boaters to shoulder the cost of something they don’t even use.
"I’m very concerned about safety. We’ll be creating two very sharp corners, which will be very difficult to navigate," said Don Kidwell, a PGI resident and retired professional engineer during public comment. "Visibility isn’t great ... It’s usually when people cut corners you have people coming bow to bow."
But supporters said these concerns were overstated. "I travel the canals day and night. There are areas that are tight, but I think we’re a little bit over-concerned with safety," said Mike Fauci, a PGI resident. "This is a waterfront community. Let’s do something that’s going to help all of the boaters down here."
Staff recommended council take action after the firm’s presentation, so it could negotiate contractual services — with the permitting process taking at least 18 months.