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Collier County beach renourishment project to repair damage from Hurricane Irma could cost $29 million

Collier County’s board members discussing the routes that trucks will take upon delivering sand to the beaches
Bryan Wacha
Collier County’s board members discussing the routes that trucks will take upon delivering sand to the beaches

Collier County is implementing a Beach Renourishment Project to repair damage in 2017 from Hurricane Irma, including building surge barriers such as sand dunes.

The waterfront properties of Collier County experienced major flood damages as a result of Irma and spent $104 million for repairs.

Although these barriers would provide levels of safety for the land, structures and residents in the onset of another major storm, homeowners in the area are not pleased with the proposed plans to construct these sand dunes saying it would devalue their million-dollar properties and add an unpleasant scenic view for tourists.

The beaches that undergo construction are Vanderbilt Beach, Naples Beach and a portion of Pelican Bay.

About 268,500 tons of sand will be used for the project. The sand will be transported from a sand mine in Immokalee. Many residents are upset about the project because of the amount of trucks, excess noise, construction, and traffic that the project will bring into their neighborhoods.

During a recent county board of commissioner meeting, one committee member, Robert Roth, brought up the fact that an average dump truck carries about 22 tons, meaning that there will be roughly 10,000 trips with trucks carrying sand from Immokalee to Collier County throughout the duration of the project.

“What these neighborhoods put up with is no small feat,” Roth said.

This is not the first-time beach renourishment has taken place in Collier County, however the times before were on a much smaller scale.

“When this was started a number of years ago, there was great trepidation, as you might imagine,” Committee Chairman Dave Trecker said.

However, some council members feel that the construction for safer beaches will be welcomed by residents living along the northern part of Vanderbilt Beach as erosion has been a huge problem there for years, even after an average rain storm.

“I walk the Naples Beach pretty much every weekend from 5th Avenue to the pier and, I think, after the last tropical system we had, it looked like there was a pretty big slug taken out just north of the pier, but as I walked it last week it looked much improved,” project manager Andy Miller said.

The sections of Vanderbilt Beach that will see changes are from Bluebill Avenue to Vanderbilt Beach Road. Pelican Bay will see construction near the Beach Club and Naples Beach will have sand delivered to Lowdermilk Park to Naples Pier.

The project will also go about a half mile past the Ritz Carlton at Pelican Bay, which could pose issues among tourists and members of the resort.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty,” Trecker said. “It’s a big deal for places like Pelican Bay which has to fund up a pretty substantial stretch of beach where there is very limited public access. I think for the Marco folks this is going to be very relative too.”

Work will start on Naples Beach and is expected to be completed by November. Vanderbilt Beach is expected to be finished by December and Pelican Bay is estimated to be done by the middle of January.

The expected budget was $23 million, but funding has exceeded the estimation and is now up to $26 to $29 million. The total amount of money has increased by 35.4 percent since it was first projected in May. Any excess funds not used will carry over into the next fiscal year for other services.

“We emphasized that our primary goal on the project is safety,” Miller said. “Number one is safety, number two is to be efficient and get off the beaches as quickly as we can and make them as beautiful as we can.”