MATLACHA, Fla. — Like so many areas in Southwest Florida, Hurricane Ian struck a blow to Matlacha — a community that thrives on fishing.
While the fishing pier is still closed because of the damage, the county is one step closer to giving reconstruction the green light.
Tuesday, the Lee Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to award a contract to repair the fishing pier at Matlacha Community Park, an important step in the ongoing restoration of the park after it was damaged by Hurricane Ian on Sept.28, 2022.
The $388,219 project will be funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund.
Fox 4's Briana Brownleespoke with people out fishing on Matlacha and one man said he misses the fishing pier.
"That was pretty disappointing because I used to fish there a lot," said Jason Batcsics.
Batcsics fishes all across southwest Florida, but when he's on Matlacha, he says he prefers the fishing pier that was built 50 years ago.
"If you hook something bigger over there, sometimes it can be easier to land," Batcsics said. "If you hook something big over here you will need a drop net."
With the pier closed because of Ian, Batcsics has to fish on the bridge in hopes of some nibbles. On the pier, he said he usually reels in flounder, which he prefers over the catfish he usually catches on the bridge.
Another plus about the pier for him is that it's tucked away in the community park.
"It can be more convenient instead of walking all the way up here," Batcsics said.
The county is expected to award a contract Tuesday for nearly $400,000 to replace the deck, railings, fish cleaning stations, benches, garbage cans and lighting.
It's a rebuild Jason said he can't wait for the county to tackle.
"I am absolutely okay with that," Batcsics laughed. "Like I said I liked to fish over there in the pasts. I look forward to it opening again."
The county received the funding from the federal government.