The Matlacha Bridge Reef Project has secured one designated site for a portion of the old Matlacha Bridge to become an artificial reef - if the non-profit organization can raise enough money to make it happen.
Rod Mazzoli of Island Floors Inc. & Interiors said the permits are in place if the organization can raise enough money to put a portion of the Matlacha Bridge off of the Novac Reef, which is located at the northern pass of Gasparilla Island. He said the reef is three miles north of the Boca Grande inlet, sitting right off of Gasparilla pass.
"That site is secured. The reef association is willing to take the material," he said. "It's a done deal if we can raise the money." "
Mazzoli said the artificial reef is going to benefit all the local fisherman and divers - whether recreational or commercial people.
"I think it's nice to have the old bridge here forever," he said.
A meeting has been set with the Army Core of Engineers this week to see if they can secure another site Cayo Costa.
What: Matlacha Bridge Reef
When: 3-6 p.m., Sept. 22
Where: Olde Fish House
Marina in Matlacha
Tickets: $10, which includes
Information: Call 239-283-6070 or email matlachabridge-
"We are looking at Cayo Costa location," Mazzoli said.
He said the state and county are not going to do anything for them, so the money, which is needed to move some of the bridge to the destination, will have to come from contributions and the bridge builder. How much is needed is still being calculated.
"I don't understand why the county didn't do this, there were state funds set aside. All they had to do was apply for them," Mazzoli said.
To make the dream of turning a portion of the bridge into an artificial reef, the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project has scheduled its first benefit for next month.
Tina Bush, also of Island Floors Inc. & Interiors, said the first benefit, which is being held to promote the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project, will be held Sept. 22, from 3-6 p.m., at the Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha.
"The locals are going nuts with this," she said. "I am so thrilled."
Tickets to attend the event are $10, which includes a fish fry. Those interested in attending can call 239-283-6070 to purchase their ticket.
The benefit will also feature a silent auction, live local music, a seafood raffle and a 50/50 raffle.
T-shirts and embroidered hats, which were designed by Mel Meo, will also be for sale.
"It is going to be a great event," Bush said. I am excited about it."
Mazzoli said they are looking into having a benefit in St. James City and Bokeelia for the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project as well.
The idea of turning the old Matlacha Bridge into an artificial reef came to fruition the first week of July and soon turned into a non-profit organization - the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project - because Mazzoli wanted to preserve a piece of the islands history.