Waterways committee grapples with Marco’s failing seawalls

Ordinance changes proposed to clarify when a seawall may be repaired, and when it must be condemned and replaced

Public Works Director Rony Joel, left, addresses the Waterways Committee at their meeting Thursday at City Hall.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER, Special to the Eagle

Public Works Director Rony Joel, left, addresses the Waterways Committee at their meeting Thursday at City Hall.

Paul Schmitz, left, of Crane Materials Intl. and Marco Electrical/Seawall Inspector Bruce Yakola, right, engage in discussion during the Waterways Committee meeting Thursday.
Lance Shearer/ Special to the Eagle

Photo by LANCE SHEARER, Special to the Eagle

Paul Schmitz, left, of Crane Materials Intl. and Marco Electrical/Seawall Inspector Bruce Yakola, right, engage in discussion during the Waterways Committee meeting Thursday. Lance Shearer/ Special to the Eagle

Waterways Committee member Don Dilks shares his opinion on why putting a new seawall up in front of an existing seawall should be considered permissible during the committee's meeting Thursday at City Hall.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER, Special to the Eagle

Waterways Committee member Don Dilks shares his opinion on why putting a new seawall up in front of an existing seawall should be considered permissible during the committee's meeting Thursday at City Hall.

The seawalls of Marco Island are failing. With most having been in place for decades, they are naturally bowing, rotating and crumbling under the relentless pressures of gravity and erosion. The city board dealing with this issue is the Waterways Committee, and it met Thursday at City Hall.

The committee is working on amending the current ordinance dealing with seawall maintenance, repair and failure by making it more clear when a seawall is in a condition that can be repaired and when a full, costly replacement is needed.

After dealing with some non-controversial issues, such as awarding the contract for repairing the Caxambas bridge, and the exploration of five alternative solutions for the Smokehouse Bay bridges, the committee grappled with the issue of how homeowners may or may not repair their seawalls, as opposed to replacing them altogether.

Committee member Don Dilks made a motion to delete wording in the ordinance governing seawalls that says a new seawall may not be placed in front of an old one. This is a method, often using vinyl panels, which allows owners to save money versus a complete replacement of a failing structure.

Public Works Director Rony Joel opposed the idea, saying that adding on to the front of an existing seawall amounts to the homeowner taking property that is not his, as the new panels will necessarily encroach into the canal. The question, he said is simple: “Are you taking more property? The answer is yes. It’s not your property.”

This method, he maintained, would never pass muster with the Corps of Engineers. He said homeowners would be welcome to apply for a variance, and would need that and written authorization from the Corps to make the process conform.

Dilks countered that this method is in wide use in other areas of Florida.

“Why make the owner pay $2,000 for a variance?” he asked. He introduced a speaker, Paul Schmitz of Crane Material Intl., an Atlanta firm, who showed examples and answered the committee members’ questions about how the vinyl panels work to stabilize an aging seawall.

Dilks’ motion passed, but Marco Island residents whose seawalls are crumbling should not expect to be able to start building on to the front of their seawalls anytime soon. Community Development Director Steve Olmsted, also present at the meeting, asked that city staff be directed to prepare a report to the committee for consideration at its next meeting.

This motion was made by committee member Jim Carroll, and also passed.

“Will this hold up this ordinance much longer?” asked Bruce Yakola, Marco Island’s electrical and seawall inspector. He expressed concern he is left without a clear mandate regarding what is and what is not permissible regarding dealing with the growing number of seawalls whose useful life is dwindling.

A similar issue was raised concerning the wording on what indicates a failed seawall. Committee member Richard James Shanahan (“no, I’m not that Richard Shanahan,” he clarified) said there is a need to quantify what triggers the requirement for remedial work.

“Every time I read the ordinance, I get concerned by the word ‘severe,’ agreed Dilks.

Olmsted said assessing the need is “not an exact science,” and the members agreed on wording that Yakola said he could also work with.

The committee also heard a presentation from Liza Davis and Amber Crooks of the Conservancy on the Fertilizer Ordinance regulating the stormwater runoff that is a major source of pollution in area waterways.

In addition to Dilks, Carroll and Shanahan, members Gale Vinson and Don Henderson attended the meeting. Geoff Fahringer and Ted Ryznar were absent. The committee is scheduled to meet again June 25.

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Comments » 9

jaguar writes:

One day in the future there will be guided tours around Marco.But then it will be a ghost town.1st it was the septic tanks and mains drainage at a cost of $25,000.2nd they stopped people renting out their properties making it difficult for some to survive.3rd we have to replace the seawalls at a cost of $25,000.Hang on I,ll just go out to my garden and pick some more money off the Marco tree.Next I suppose we will have wear a mask with a dial on it and be charged for the air we breath.What have I ever done to deserve all of this cr**.Give me a break Marco Please.

happy6 writes:

one thing that would definitely help the seawalls would be if the city would enforce the NO WAKE zones...wakes cause more damage than any natural action.

happy34145 writes:

Marco Island government sucks

playballonK writes:

Of all the thousands of posts I have read over the last 4 or 5 years on this site, never did I expect that the most appropriate one ever would be summed up in only 4 words.
happy34145, you rock!

MrBreeze writes:

Jaguar, you do not realze that owning a home COSTS MONEY. You bought a HOME not a instrument to make profit on. You need to realize if you are not willing to use your own money to fund your home you need to get out of it. I sit back and laugh at the people that spent the big money on homes that they thought in turn would return a profit. I have spent a ton of MY OWN MONEY on MY HOME and I am proud of my home.

jaguar writes:

You really got stuck behind the door when the brains were being given out Mr Breeze. No-one buys a HOME thinking they are going to lose money. Most of us hope that yes, we might indeed, one day make a little profit out of it. a little something to leave the kids ALL OFF US invest a great deal of money turning our homes into our own little bits of heaven and the vast majority of us use our hard earned bucks to do it. That's what makes the difference between a HOUSE AND A HOME and that's why, its so very sad when people who dared to take the plunge have to give up their dream often through no fault of their own. But then again we couldn't expect a heartless soul like you who so much enjoys the misfortune of other people to understand that sentiment really could we.? Your just far too busy laughing yourself s----- at people who stand to lose a great deal more than you simply because their dream was bigger than yours. What makes you think that you are any more proud of your home than the rest of us?
Go get a brain Mr Breeze, Actually no don't, if you did actually have one, you could be very dangerous

deltarome writes:

I doubt that anyone who bought a house at retail prices since 2003 has made a "profit" on their house here.
Considering carrying costs and time value of money, I doubt that anyone who bought since 1996 would have any money left over if they sold.
It costs money to live here, unless you are an iguana or mosquito.
Pay it and enjoy it.

MrBreeze writes:

Jaguar, I like the way you are always "crying the blues". Is it my fault you and others overbought your "dream home". I bought within my means knowing I could lose money. Even someone with "no brains" as you label me, would know not to buy a home not on city sewer services, with a worn out 1966 era seawall. Someone as s----- as me, would not think that "flophouse rental" would be controlled one day and maybee stopped, cutting off the funding for your "dream". I think that when the brains were being handed out they gave me "common sense brains" and you recieved "greedy" brains. Again, you do not need the biggest home to show off to your buddies who you want to envy you. Try downsizing to 500,000 its not so bad. I do not relish people falling on hard times, but I do like to see big shooters go down hard. Please keep the insults coming as I know that my points are getting across that way.......

jaguar writes:

Mr Breeze I know things are bad out there but now you are being s-----, down size could,nt possibly.Come up the hill 1 day and join me for a cup of tea.We can look at where your little house used to be.Have a nice day.

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