Cape beach closure: 'We'd be better safe than sorry'

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jul 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-19 08:41:47-04
Test results from blue-green algae showing low toxicity levels at the Cape Coral Yacht Club has forced the city manager to do something that's never been done before. 
"This is the first time I've made a decision to close down a beach since I've been manager of Cape Coral," said John Szerlag. "This is also the first time that I've been aware of a letter from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), stating certain populations should avoid the water."
He told Fox 4 he saw the FDEP results, which were made public on Thursday, for the first time Saturday after receiving it from Cape Coral Mayor Marni Setzer.
Setzer tells Fox 4 she received the report from state representative Dan Eagle. 
Moments later, Szerlag decided to close the beach and a message announcing the no-swimming notice at the Cape Coral Yacht club appeared on the mayor's Facebook page. 
Cape Coral Resident Lynn Rosko agrees with the decision to close the beach but is at odds with the city manager's decision not to consult with City Council members. 
"They should've called a special meeting of the mayor and council; they're the ones that set the policy," Rosko. 
When asked about the decision mayor Retzer says it was not motivated by politics but rather, public health. 
"I don't think there's one way of handling anything. You can always look back and say I shouldn't handled it this way but it's not political it really isn't," said Retzer.
The department of health: which is responsible for issuing advisories for fecal bacteria in our waters sent Fox 4 a statement urging visitors not to come in contact with the blue-green algae. 
However; the agency did not issue an official no-swim advisory.  
The FDEP also sent us a statement saying the toxins found in the algae pose a very low threat to recreational swimmers; and they advise individuals with compromised immune systems, young children and seniors to avoid the water. 
"We thought we'd be better safe than sorry," said Retzer.
Szerlag says it's not clear when the beach will re-open to swimmers. He plans to speak with officials from DOH and DEP to determine what toxins are in the water and whether it is safe for swimming. 
"Talking as a father and a grandfather I would not want my children and grandchildren to swim there given the contents of this letter from the DEP," said Szerlag.