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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.