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Shoreline emergency declared at Leonardo Arms

March 20, 2012
By BOB PETCHER, , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The beachfront that is adjacent to Leonardo Arms condominiums at 7400 Estero Blvd. is under eroding duress, and Town officials are doing something about it.

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously approved a resolution to issue a Declaration of Local Shoreline Emergency from the Department of Environmental Protection to allow the Town to seek a permit for temporary protective measures.

The declaration will allow regulatory relief to the identified area to address the erosion stress, which could worsen due to storm activity, through expedited emergency permitting. Temporary emergency protective structures, such as sand bags, may be used to help in the erosion process.

Article Photos

The shoreline at Leonardo Arms is eroding and especially vulnerable at high tides when it threatens the foundation of one of the buildings shown.

"In order to get this permit, (Leonardo Arms officials) will have to come back to the Town with an engineered plan that will say what they are going to do and how they are going to accomplish it," said Stewart. "They will be working with our environmental sciences coordinator and the Town Community Development Department in order to accomplish that."

Town Environmental Sciences Coordinator Keith Laakkonen brought the three-week-old recession to the attention of Town Manager Terry Stewart when the area was first affected. There are concerns that involve possible Gulf waters migration into the foundation of one the three Leonardo Arms buildings.

"One afternoon, (Keith) came to me and said we have a developing issue down by Leonardo Arms (condominiums)," said Stewart. "It's been kind of a lagoon-type of an area over the years. It migrates forwards and backwards. For some reason of late, there's been a lot of tidal action in that area that has washed out the north end of that particular lagoon. There are a lot of tides that have been flowing through there."

Council members were supplied photos of the distressed area. Stewart pointed out certain pictures show how close the waterway has gotten to the buildings.

"When the tides are moving at their peak, you can see where the sand has been cut back at least three or four feet," he said. "In one particular area, the bank goes back even further. The tide brushes through there very quickly and continues to erode the bank."

Temporary measures can be accepted for an initial period of 60 days, yet extensions can be granted. In the meantime, officials at Leonardo Arms will be in contact with DEP to determine what can be done on a more permanent basis.

Since the erosion process, Town officials have been in contact with condominium residents, who were curious as to what to do with the situation. State officials told Laakkonen that a regular permit request could make application, but a long wait may be expected in order to have the issue addressed.

"That didn't seem reasonable to me, so I asked Keith to go back and speak to DEP more specifically about an emergency types of a process that we could undertake to get to a solution more quickly," said Stewart.

During public comment, Leonardo Arms' Gene Dahlin thanked the Town's efforts for education efforts. Roughly 15 condo owners from the Beach's south end property were in attendance to support him.

"This is becoming a rather severe situation," he said. "The barrier that we have in place now is being eroded away especially during high tide and particularly a westerly wind."

Dahlin said protective vegetation and boulders are falling into the eroded area. A coastal engineering firm has been hired.

"It's a constant ongoing and changing situation that we have," he said. 'We are doing everything that has been recommended. We feel this situation is of an emergency nature."

Councilman Alan Mandel, who lives nearby, stated he has seen the landscape deteriorate. He made the motion to the approval of the town manager.

"We will continue to work together to make sure everything gets done as quickly as possible," concluded Stewart.



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