Editorial: Artificial reef ... must we sink public dollars into dunking retired frigate?

Show us the underwater fun.

That is what local diving/fishing enthusiasts are telling the Collier County Commission about towing a retired 455-foot frigate, the USS George Philip, from the state of Washington to a spot about 30 miles west of Marco Island in the Gulf of Mexico.

They say the sunken ship, with nature taking its course, would become a haven for plants, corals and fish, which would make it a magnet for divers and fishermen.

County officials estimate it would cost $2 million to bring the George Philip here.

To that, we say: Show us the money.

Tax dollars are scarce these days and are likely to remain so. Besides, community satisfaction is always greater when such specialized missions are carried out by the private sector — with the private sector partnering for ongoing upkeep.

Donations are still out there for good causes. The legions of fishing and diving fans in this area could put this ambitious reef proposal over the top — or should we say, straight to the bottom? — without getting in over our heads.

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