Marco Island’s wide pristine beaches are world famous and much enjoyed by its residents and visitors. It is the number one tourist attraction, and the primary economic driver, not only for Marco, but for Collier County. Marco’s beaches are also an active habitat for many endangered species, such as loggerhead sea turtles and migratory birds.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), approximately 57% of Florida’s beaches are experiencing erosion. Tropical storms, hurricanes and erosions can cause significant damage to beaches. To restore and maintain the pristine nature of Marco’s beaches, re-grading or renourishment projects are necessary.
Gary McAlpin, Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management Director, appeared before the Marco Island City Council recently to provide an update on the upcoming beach re-nourishment project scheduled for the central beaches of Marco Island in November.
According to McAlpin, the main portion will be about 155,000 cubic yards with sand to be dredged from offshore. The dredging crew will excavate daily from 6 AM to 8 PM until the project is done. It will start from the gulf side of South Seas Towers to the Madeira Condominiums.
Federal and state project permits have been obtained and the project is ready for a November start. The county hopes to finish the project before the start of the 2019 sea turtle season. Material will be taken from an intertidal zone and moved up to the dune line, reshaping it to create positive drainage. This project will eliminate low spots on the beach that become small ponds during rainy season, where fresh water accumulates and bacteria grows.
According to McAlpin, “If we’re going to build resiliency into the beach program and do a better job of resisting storm surges, the more mass you can put on the beach, the better you are. Directionally, that’s the right thing we have to do.”
Tourism Pays For All That Sand!
Collier County Ordinance 2005-43 levies a four percent (4%) Tourist Development Tax on all rental income received from accommodations rented for six (6) months or less. Revenues collected are used for the extensive beach renourishment projects and inlet management programs, along with museum and special events in Collier County.
Between fiscal years 2012 through 2016, Collier County collected $93.2 million in tourist tax revenues. Marco Island contributed $22.3 million during this time frame while Naples contributed $23.1 million – an almost equal amount. During this same time frame, Collier County spent $14.4 million on Naples’ Beach renourishment projects while Marco was ONLY allocated $5.1 million for their beach renourishment projects. In other words, Marco contributed to the County essentially the same amount of Tourist Development Tax dollars as Naples, but received back about one third less in beach renourishment dollars. This seems unfair, especially considering the state of Marco’s beaches during the rainy season.
For more information on Marco’s beach renourishment project, call Collier County Coastal Zone Management Director Gary McAlpin at 239-252-5342.