Clogged Collier Creek inlet on Marco to get dredged, sand to Hideaway shore area

This rendering shows the northern end of Hideaway Beach and how little sand is left in front of buildings 5000 and 6000. Additionally, sand is shown building up at the entrance to Collier Creek just left of the Hideaway Beach peninsula.

This rendering shows the northern end of Hideaway Beach and how little sand is left in front of buildings 5000 and 6000. Additionally, sand is shown building up at the entrance to Collier Creek just left of the Hideaway Beach peninsula.

The Marco Island City Council adopted an emergency resolution calling for a fix, and Collier County commissioners voted last week to hire a dredging company to do the job.

— Marco Island resident Randy Moity knows better than to take his boat through Collier Creek unless the tide is just right.

The way to get to the Gulf of Mexico for an estimated one-third of the island's boaters, the inlet has narrowed as sand has filled it in, making an already tricky navigation spot downright dangerous, boaters say.

The Marco Island City Council adopted an emergency resolution calling for a fix, and Collier County commissioners voted last week to hire a dredging company to do the job.

"It's a hazard, it really is," Moity said. "It's a problem we need to focus our attention on and get it done."

Commissioners voted to pay Energy Resources Inc. some $260,000 to do the work, which could get started in early 2012 and take some two months to finish.

The Hideaway Beach Improvement District, through the city of Marco Island, paid for the engineering and permitting for the project.

Crews are expected to dredge 10,000 cubic yards of sand from the entrance to Collier Bay and put it in the near-shore tidal zone along a stretch of Hideaway Beach.

That beach has been a focal point for debates over whether it should qualify for public money for beach projects because of its inaccessibility to the public.

The Collier Bay dredging project has avoided that debate; Florida law requires that sand dredged from an inlet be put on the downstream beach, which in this case is Hideaway.

"This is not to renourish Hideaway Beach and provide them with any real benefit with this sand," Collier County Coastal Zone Management Director Gary McAlpin said.

Naples City Council's John Sorey on NewsMakers

Naples City Council's John Sorey on NewsMakers

"I understand the concern (about getting the work done)," said Naples Councilman John Sorey, chairman of the CAC. "At the same time, $60,000 is $60,000."

Sand was put in the same place when Collier dredged the inlet in 2001 using tourist tax dollars and again in 2005, when a rock jetty was built in the area to reduce erosion.

The county's Coastal Advisory Committee voted 4-3 in September to recommend approval of the dredging contract.

Naples Councilman John Sorey, chairman of the CAC, wanted to delay the project for nine months to save an estimated $60,000 by combining it with another beach renourishment project planned for next year on Marco Island.

"I understand the concern (about getting the work done)," Sorey said. "At the same time, $60,000 is $60,000."

Marco Island police Capt. Dave Baer, a former city marine patrol officer, didn't immediately have statistics about crashes or groundings at Collier Creek.

He said the speed of the water at the narrow inlet, made worse by the shoaling on its west side, makes it one of the most challenging places on Marco to navigate a boat.

Boats get caught in the currents and sucked into dock pilings on the east side of the inlet, boaters say.

"The currents are tricky there," Baer said.

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