Marco Island Florida 

Marco Island leadership is preparing for a Collier Bay dredge-and-fill project in the Tigertail area, the neighbors in the area are having a fit!.

Tigertail Beach area home owners are very concerned about the proposed dumping of dredged material from the sea bottom of Collier Bay on to the land known as Tract K. Many present are concerned mostly of the smell, which according to those present, could be the dreaded low tide smell times one hundred!


Australian Pines rise from the  11-acre portion of property known to most as Tract K.  The property  may be use to deposit dredge spoils from Collier Bay,  to make for greater depths for our island boaters in the Smoke House Bay area. 

Neighbors in the area have formed a committee to voice their displeasure with the proposal.  The group  sent out e-mails July 5 indicating that two new brochures have been printed and are ready for distribution around town. One is titled "Why Tract K concerns you," and the second asks for assistance: "Help us express our concerns."

 T-shirts are being worn around Marco Island by several concerned starting on  June 29.  The shirts say, "Ask me about Tract K," and has a tree lighting  computers around the island.

The most recent email was sent off late July 4, composed by Tigertail resident Helen Borrell, and forwarded by Catherine Cook, who is organizing local resistance to the city plan.

"Something stinks on Marco and we don't want that stench on Tigertail (Court) or anywhere else on the Island," Borrell wrote. "Why not dump the dredge on one of the uninhabited islands?"

The protests have Marco elected officials and city professionals scratching their heads, wondering why so many residents are so upset about a common practice to enhance access to and within Southwest Florida waterways.

The plan was to dredge Collier Creek to offer more depth, and pile the materials onto Tract K, an 11-acre site along Tigertail Court that is owned by the Collier County School District, and has been earmarked as the site of a future school.


Standing on the 11-acre Tract K parcel on Marco Island on July 8, the Ahlstrom family, from left, Cate, 12, Sam, 14, Bob and Lisa, are opposed to the project, citing concerns of odor, safety for the neighborhood and depreciating property values.

Collier School Board members approved the project earlier this year. Earliest city records of the project date to October 2000, said Public Works Director Vlad Ryziw.

That's when the city's Waterway Advisory Committee and city staff looked into depth findings in Collier Bay at Collier Creek.

Samples since taken from Collier Creek show that the sand is not of beach quality, so Marco officials will not receive tourist development tax money for the project. And while the project has been widely discussed by boaters around town, as well as by the city's waterways committee, it is only in the past few months that so many residents have become so vocally opposed, alleging that the smell will affect their quality of life and destroy property values.

Tigertail area resident Wanda Cutlip sent a June 30 e-mail to Mark Miller, the state Department of Environmental Protection's environmental manager for submerged lands and the South District's Environmental Resources Program, expressing concerns about dewatering dredge, impact on drain fields, and odors in a residential community.

Miller immediately responded to Cutlip's concerns, saying that DEP would review all permit applications submitted by Coastal Engineering Consultants, the city's contractors, but that numerous such projects are conducted annually along Florida's Southwest Coast.

"Several such projects occur each year in communities with extensive residential canal systems such as Marco Island, Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. Presumably, some of these projects occur in residential areas and the spoil material is deposited at least temporarily on vacant property within a residential area," Miller wrote.

City officials told residents who objected to the possibility of "smell" that the dredged materials would be treated with appropriate and safe chemicals. Locals wanted to know what kind.

Miller wrote that he doesn't "recall any dredge projects where the material was treated with some kind of chemical," but if the city does, the DEP would certainly ask officials to show that the chemical is safe.

On July 3, Cook delivered a petition to City Manager Bill Moss that was signed by 324 residents and business owners. They are opposed to the "deposit and dewatering of dredged materials on Tract K or any property located within a residential area on Marco Island," Cook's cover letter states.

Moss said that, while he doesn't know what kind of chemical would be used, he didn't anticipate a bad odor, or at least one that he thought was bad, nor would it likely be considered so by anyone who has long lived in a boating community, he said.

"I lived near the (South Carolina) mudflats for 13 years," Moss said just before the holiday weekend.

As for allegations that the city is doing this project just to aid developer Jack Antaramian's Esplanade project to allow access for bigger boats, city officials are at a loss for comments: dredging creeks is a continuing process.

Moss explained that Collier Creek originally was dredged in the 1970s and over the past few years has developed extensive shoals.

Ryziw said the existing Collier Creek channel, which runs a course between the Big Marco River to the north and Smokehouse Bay to the south, is generally 100 feet wide and more than 9 feet deep. However, the channel segment that approaches Collier Creek has been noticeably constricted through progressive shoaling over the past five years.

The city's waterways advisory committee recommended this project, and approved the tentative plan to transport the slurry a combination of water and sand from Collier Creek to Tract K through the use of hydraulic dredge pipelines, which would be submerged in the waterways.

A temporary berm would be constructed and the slurry would be pumped into a bermed detention area in which it would be "dewatered." The sand would remain and the water would be piped back into the waterway.

City Council members on June 16 unanimously approved their part of the interlocal agreement with the School Board. The signed agreement was to go before the School Board at the July 24 meeting, but Moss and Ryziw asked that the contract be removed from the agenda.

Late last week, Moss decided to put the issue back before council members at their July 21 meeting. That is one week after a July 14 public information workshop on the subject.

"We'll see if the council wants to explore other options. I didn't want to burden the School Board. ...My position is I didn't want the School Board dealing with issues without City Council members hearing from their public," Moss said.


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