No-wake zone discussion is making waves in Treasure Island

Pinellas County

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Discussions over a controversial topic is making waves in the small coastal town of Treasure Island, near St.Pete Beach.

A City of Treasure Island Council meeting is taking place Tuesday where many residents are urging city leaders to vote to create a no-wake zone 7 days a week, but some want to leave things as is.

The area that is under scrutiny is the channel just south of Blind Pass Causeway Bridge to the Gulf of Mexico, a 1-mile stretch of waterway between Sunset Beach Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach.

Many boats use this as a way to get out to the gulf, but people say they also like to enjoy the waterway for kayaking and swimming, and they’re worried about someone getting hurt.

“The boats have gotten bigger, the boats have gotten faster. It’s quite a danger for my kids on a paddleboard, my wife and I on the kayaks, and even aquatic life,” said Crispin Teufel who has a house along the waterway.

He has a 3-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son that like to play in the water behind their house, but he gets nervous when they do.

“It’s scary, there are people on the boat not paying attention. They don’t see the kids. You have to wave your hands in the air, and it’s just scary…you’re afraid for the kids’ life,” Crispin said.

He said they’re also concerned about manatees and dolphins that swim in the waterway adjacent to blind pass.

People who live off the water say sine the COVID pandemic started they’ve seen increased boat traffic and the speed at which some boaters are passing through the channel.

As of now, the area is a no-wake zone on weekends and holidays but during normal week-days, there is no regulation.

The Teufel family are among many asking city leaders to consider making zones apply to every day of the week, but not everyone wants that.

“As a business owner and a marina owner on this pass I feel legislation in this regard is completely unnecessary, it’s complete overkill,” Captain Dave Winkler said, owner of Suncoast Watersports.

His business is on the waterfront under discussion, he said he spends a lot of time on the water and has never seen an issue.

“There is not a safety risk or safety factor involved. We’ve been out here 25 years and we don’t see any kind of factor that’s dangerous,” Captain Winkler said.

“Now there’s a good example, there’s a rental boat,” Captain Winkler said pointing out a boat driving slowly on the water. “They may not be aware of the rules and regulations but they’re not acting in a reckless manner. People have common sense and I think you need to leave that up to them a little bit,” Winkler said.

City commissioners met last week to discuss the issue during a workshop, it is expected to be discussed at Tuesday night’s 6:00 pm meeting. There could even be a vote on it in the meeting.

You can watch the meeting live online from Treasure Island City’s Website. You can also watch the meeting and participate in it by using GoToWebinar tool. According to the city, you can also listen to the meeting on the phone by dialing 1 (872) 240-3311, when the meeting ID is requested, enter the access code of 393390693 and press the # key.

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