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Another County beach failure

October 5, 2011
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor

This past Wednesday, the News-Press newspaper ran a front page article on the beach restoration project that is in process at the upper end of the island. It is obvious that Lee County is trying to put a favorable slant on this project, after failing badly and being cancelled by the Federal government for County's 4.6-mile re-nourishment project.

In reality what is being done in that mile plus area are two separate projects.

The first one is overdue by 50 years. In the 1960's the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended an 800-foot groin (or pier-like structure) made of stone be placed at the tip of the island to keep Matanzas Pass open. County is required by law to keep the Pass open. County did nothing on that recommendation until they tried to include it in their failed re-nourishment project, for which County tried to extract $1 million from our Town.

The second, separately funded project, includes repairing the damages done to the upper end of the island by the repeated dredgings at Matanzas pass for the last 5 decades, ignoring the Army Corps of Engineers groin recommendations. The last dredging, two-plus years ago, was followed by a loss of beach that owners sharply complained about.

County's further problem is that they have not demonstrated in this area that they know how to engineer a beach that lasts. Bonita Beach certainly did not nor did Lovers Key.

Moreover, Town Council asked County to guarantee the beach life. County refused. Town Council asked County to use new technology in order to better retain the sand. County refused. Yet new technology has been approved and used in Florida that shows longer beach life. New technology has been used as close as Naples.

Furthermore, the Lee County Project Manager stood in front of Town Council, recorded on TV, and promised to complete these projects by the end of the year 2010, when he got the Town Council OK to go. County had also said that the engineering was complete, and the governmental approvals were complete.

All County had to do was to select contracting firms to pump and spread sand and build a groin and proceed, or so they said.

The year 2010 ended with the project not even being started. Now County says completion is late this year or beyond. One year or more late!

Yet, County would like all to believe that everything about these projects is great.

In the high tech world that I came from, work that does not last and is a year late is a failure and new management is installed. But County would not even accept new technology that could help them avoid County's past engineering failures for our new beach with its now probable short beach life.

County admits that 100 feet or more of the beach will be gone the first year. That's more than a third of the new beach admittedly gone, quickly.

Frank Schilling

Fort Myers Beach

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