Election 2022: Candidate Question of the Week – 10-21-22 – Northwest Spreader
Each week through the General Election, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. This week’s Question of the Week is:
What is your position on a cut, or pass through, in the Northwest Spreader to allow boaters additional access to Charlotte Harbor?
The 2022 municipal election for Cape Coral City Council features four races — the seats for mayor and Districts 1, 4 and 6. While candidates must live in the district they seek to represent, Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide races, meaning every registered Cape voter, no matter their party affiliation or city address, may cast a ballot in every race.
Here are this week’s responses:
• John Gunter, incumbent
I have always supported this initiative as your Mayor and will continue to support this effort. I have not only supported this project, but I have personally navigated this natural pass that exists today and have noted some of the challenges that we will face in this endeavor. The biggest challenge will be the issuance of Federal and State permits needed to get this project completed. I strongly believe this is an important project for the residents in the Northwest part of our city and will make this project one of my priorities.
• Tom Shadrach
I support a pass through the Northwest Spreader. This will give our northwest residents better water access. Boats travelling along the spreader are currently causing more damage to the environment versus a more direct access to the harbor. Dredging technology has improved greatly in recent years and provides less impact to the environment. Mangroves can be replanted, and oyster beds seeded to help purify the water. I believe the use of sea walls should be minimized; the technology is there to do this, and it will benefit the community and the environment. Change is inevitable, and I want to see a plan where both sides can be represented. Adding a channel and improving the channel adjacent to D&D Marina will greatly improve navigation through the area.
• Dr. Carol Rae Culliton
With the Northwest utilities expansion, the improvements to Burnt Store Road, establishing of the RV Park at Tranquility Lake, there is a potential for increased traffic on the Northwest Spreader. It looks like there is currently only one exit to the Matlacha Pass. Comments on the NW Cape Coral Neighborhood Association web site indicate support for an additional exit. I support anything that makes the boating experience safer and more enjoyable. As with the Chiquita Lock, if the science supports the creation of another exit and there is support from the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers, there is no reason not to make the “cut” or pass-through. It may take a little effort to get all the agencies on board, but the creation of a second exit on the Northwest Spreader is worth the effort.
• Bill Steinke
Water already moves to and from the spreader to open water naturally through the estuary on the north end — just not a consistent depth and width enough to allow boat passage. In my opinion, boats being able to exit the spreader on a shorter path would be beneficial to the ecology on the lower portion of the spreader and allow residents easier and more timely access to their ultimate destination with less fuel burn and emissions. With additional waterfront residents coming, all things considered, unless I’m missing something scientifically, I would be in favor.
• Patty Cummings
The cut is very important to many of the Northwest residents.
The Northwest spreader starts just above Matlacha and traveling from South to North takes about an hour in half from bottom to top in a boat. The city and northwest is working to open up a cut out to Charlotte Harbor which means, cutting people’s time in half by boat and saving the environment. The cut is an extension of the Cape Coral canal, there is a natural pathway that already exists. We can get this project moving by marking the trail with pillings to get started.
Let’s work on getting this done immediately!
• Jennifer I. Nelson, incumbent
A pass through in the Northwest Spreader to Charlotte Harbor would add so much economic value and potential to both Cape Coral and Charlotte County.
In my research, I discovered that a consent order from the Rosen brothers prohibits any dredging or filling in those Gulf American Corporation areas. The only openings are natural as nothing can be manmade at this time.
• Wayne Hecht
Once fully built, the Northwest Cape will have over 50,000 residents with many living on the water with the only access by boat to Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor and beyond is South through the Northwest Spreader Canal. In addition to the residential build out, we will also have the Seven Islands Project, the newly announced resort near Burnt Store Boat Ramp, possible fuel dock and restaurant at the D&D boat ramp and the Caloosa Coast Rowing Club located at Tropicana Park.
I have been an advocate for a cut to Charlotte Harbor for years. In fact, as a member of the inaugural Waterway Advisory Board I was the only member to champion the cut. I will continue the fight for a navigable cut through to Charlotte Harbor.
• Keith Long, incumbent
This has been a desire of residents in the Northwest for many years. I encourage and welcome all discussions with Florida DEP and the Army Corps to further explore opportunities for a cut through in the Northwest Spreader. Of course, environmental concerns are at the forefront of these decisions and would have to be carefully navigated to reach a compromise that would both benefit our residents and comply with regulations. As your Councilman for District 6, I vow to continue in these efforts to create a cut in the Northwest Spreader.