Tigertail Beach and the erosion of the conditions there would take center stage as one of the first items taken up by the Marco Island City Council during their first meeting of the 2021 new year on Monday, January 4. For the last several years the conditions at Tigertail have continued to deteriorate, as the once free flow of water between the mainland beach and Sand Dollar Island that separates it from the Gulf of Mexico has continued to be obstructed off by migrating sands which are choking off the once bursting with life ecosystem.
Linda Columbo, President of the Friends of Tigertail, along with Mohamed Dabees of Humiston & Moore Engineering and Linda Ryan from the Hideaway Beach Taxing District made an impassioned presentation showing the rapid decline of that once popular destination.
“The Hideaway Beach Taxing District has invested approximately $3,000,000 of private money to help keep the north end of the lagoon from completely choking off any flushing action in the lagoon, which may be the cause of a high bacteria count in the waters of that dying lagoon,” said Linda Ryan.
“What is needed here is a concerted team effort to save the Tigertail ecosystem. We understand that Tigertail Beach is a County Beach, but we need to work together with the county to see the necessary funds are dedicated to making the plan a viable one which they will buy into, too,” said City Councilman Erik Brechnitz.
Rick LoCastro, the newly elected County Commissioner for District One agreed with Brechnitz that it needs to be a “team effort” to convince those at the county, as well as state and federal level to make the investment to save what has been a thriving county park and destination for tourists. “This didn’t just happen overnight, so we have to be realists in dealing with the situation,” said LoCastro who attended the council meeting that evening.
Hurricane Irma in 2017 created an over-washing of Sand Dollar Island, as has Tropical Storm Eta in 2020, creating a subsequent Landward Sand Split Migration which has exacerbated the situation.
The group would suggest a five-point plan.
- Maintain the lagoon area as a wet estuary.
- Address shoaling in the lagoon through initial dredging and future maintenance dredging with considerations to seagrasses.
- Restore Tigertail Lagoon and Sand Dollar Island to 2018 conditions or earlier.
- Use excess sand to restore and enhance Sand Dollar Island
- Establish and maintain a circulation channel on the back side of Sand Dollar Island.
“This is a great opportunity to provide a wonderful educational experience for young and old alike to understand how we are all connected through this ecosystem,” said Brechnitz.
Council would be unanimous in its vote to proceed to direct staff to work towards the goals of securing a successful outcome to the challenges facing Tigertail Beach by joining in the ongoing effort to convince county staff of the merits of the plan.