The Belle Isle Residents Association has given $1,000 from its legal fund to the organization suing to block a controversial megayacht marina and resort on public land on Watson Island.
The donation was announced at Wednesday’s annual meeting by BIRA President Scott Diffenderfer after a presentation from Roger Craver, one of the leaders of Coalition Against Causeway Chaos.
“We’ve been collecting dues over the last few years to protect our interests,” Diffenderfer said. “The Belle Isle Residents Association believes this is so important we have a $1,000 check for you.”
Craver told the more than 100 residents at the meeting that the proposed development threatens to overwhelm traffic on the already overburdened MacArthur Causeway, impacting the Venetian Causeway as well.
Craver and Stephen Herbits and Sharon Kirby Wynne, who filed the lawsuit, live on the Venetian Causeway. They contend the city renegotiated the 13-year-old deal with developer Flagstone Properties — which has yet to build anything — on terms that violate the city charter and some key conditions in the ballot language voters approved in 2001.
The developer, Flagstone Properties, plans to build a marina, a hotel, shops, restaurants and public spaces, in phases.
“The solution to this problem is active citizens raising holy hell,” said Craver, who referred to the project as the “Watson Island Strangler.”
“We are faced with amazing and terrific traffic gridlock,” Craver said, warning that property values will go down “when people can’t get out of their homes.”