(By Ed Ryan) During a presentation regarding the Estero Island Shoreline Protection Project the town is undertaking to renourish and protect its beach, Mike Poff the President of Coastal Engineering Consultants, dropped a multi-million dollar bombshell on the town council.
Poff put together a comprehensive plan for the entire 6.5 miles of shoreline that would renourish critically eroded areas of the beach and protect it when the next big storm hits. The total length of shoreline within the project is 33,923 feet. The length of shoreline within the project boundary that is designated critically eroding by FDEP is approximately 30,905 feet.
Step one is to submit applications to state agencies in November. The application process takes 15 months with the work possibly beginning in early 2023 if all goes according to plan. The entire project, if done at once, would take 6 months.
A major monkey-wrench that Poff says needs to be worked out is the ownership of the land where the Critical Wildlife Area sits on the south end. Yes…the same Critical Wildlife Area the town is fighting homeowners Eddie Rood and Kurt Kroemer over regarding a proposed walkover.
Poff says if the state owns the CWA the state would pay 100% of the beach renourishment costs because that area has been deemed as critically eroding. If it turns out the homeowners own the land in which the CWA sits that could run the town portion of the total bill up by millions of dollars. The length of shoreline within the Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area is approximately 5,662 feet.
You may recall that Rood and Kroemer are involved in a lawsuit with the state of Florida to determine who owns that property. And, the homeowners believe they have the documentation – a title – that will prove they own the land, not the state. A trial is set for June of next year to determine whether the state or the homeowners own that land.
Rood and Kroemer have also said they would not have staked any claim to the land if the town granted them a special use permit to build a walkover so they could access the beach from their homes. The battle between the town and the homeowners has already cost the town hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The entire beach renourishment project is estimated to cost about $23 million if the town chose to go with the cadillac program and renourish the beach for the next decade. The south end would cost about $6 to $7 million with the central and north end costing $16 million.
Not all of the money will come from the town. Both the state and the county will also contribute funding. The state of Florida will cover 43% of the cost of the project, Lee County TDC (Tourist Development Council) funds will cover 43% and the town will pay a 14% share.
What was approved by the town council this week was $212,000 for design and permitting of the project. The Town is financially responsible for 14% of $204,000 or $28,560, plus $8,000 for the southern segment beach access feasibility study.
Poff says he’s applying for a 15-year permit, the initial renourishment in 2023, then to be able to do additional work if funding becomes an issue. Sand will be brought in using equipment that costs millions of dollars to mobilize so phasing it in will cost more money.