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Sunken boat in North Fort Myers canal affecting neighborhood

Posted at 6:09 PM, Oct 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 06:34:32-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Neighbors in North Fort Myers say a sunken sailboat is affecting property values in the Waterway Estates area.

The vessel capsized during Hurricane Irma and has been blocking navigation in the neighborhood's canal ever since. "It's a safety hazard when navigating, whether you're in a big boat or you're kayaking," said Billee Silva.

According to Silva, a realtor in the area, the derelict boat, along with the accompanying crumbling seawall and dilapidated lawn on the property, is affecting the value of surrounding homes. She is showing a home in the area, which she says potential buyers are initially thrilled with.

However, she tells 4 In Your Corner most people are turned off once they see what's in the backyard. "Everybody knows in real estate it's location, location, location; but view is also an important factor to many buyers," she said. "It brings the property value down."

Silva and several other neighbors called code enforcement and the Lee County Sheriff's Office to try to get the boat removed. However, a year later, the boat remains. "Everybody has been giving us the run-around. They're passing the buck."

4 In Your Corner reached out to Lee County to see if anything could be done. Representatives said the county does not handle sunken vessels that are on public property (which the canal is.)

They referred us to the West Coast Inland Navigational District, which said it would investigate. "We've already dispatched somebody to investigate the situation," said Executive Director Justin McBride.

However, there are limits to what the agency can do. If they find the boat is still attached to someone's property, code enforcement will have to take over. "If it's attached to a dock, it could be a civil issue, so our ability to do something about a vessel that's still attached to a property may be limited."