Originally published by The News-Press on August 27, 2023 by Luis Zambrano

Several high-profile groups and nonprofits bowed out of a legal challenge to keep Cape Coral’s Chiquita Boat Lock, a nearly 50-year-old manmade barrier, in operation, citing fears of massive attorney’s fees and alleged “intimidation” by the city.

In several press releases Thursday and Friday, the Matlacha Civic Association, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and Calusa Water Keepers announced that other petitioners will proceed with the case.

“Their strategies of ‘papering’ the case, running up fees (on the taxpayers’ dime), and intimidating the non-profit organizations and individual citizens have partially worked,” said the Calusa Waterkeeper’s press release.

Cape Coral Spokesperson Melissa Mickey gave a statement on the claims made by these nonprofits.

“Due to the fact that we do not comment on active legal matters we will not be responding at this time; however, we will address the statements made in the future,” wrote Mickey in an email statement.

The Calusa Waterkeeper said that Cape Coral is the petitioner with various motions and filings to run up the time and cost and describes it as another example of systematic efforts to “diminish and discourage citizen initiatives by those in power throughout the state of Florida.”

Capt. Codty Pierce, Calusa Waterkeeper, said he couldn’t risk the nonprofit’s future.

“Being a nonprofit, we do support the community and we are a grassroots organization, so having to withstand the potential financial implications, is not a risk that I can take at this time because I do need to survive to continue to provide for our community and safeguard for water quality,” he said.

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