MARCO ISLAND — Hideaway Beach’s sand erosion got a nod from Marco Island’s Beach Advisory Committee last week. The committee reviewed options for the gated community to permanently regain the beach it has been so quickly losing.
A recent fissure on Sand Dollar Island, water flow changes around the Hideaway Beach peninsula, the loss of Coconut Island and continuing sand deposits in Collier Creek have contributed to scouring Hideaway’s beachfront, especially at its northern end.
As a private community, Hideaway Beach is also a special taxing district that provides for large beach projects through a levy on its homeowners.
Short-term solutions are in the works, but the committee agreed it will take a long-term plan covering 10 or more years to give the area enough stability to retain the sand that is being replaced.
In the northern area of the beach, adjacent to condominium buildings 5000 and 6000, the beachfront has lost 3-7 feet of sand per year from 1990 to 2010. That’s according to monitoring and data from Michael Poff, vice president of engineering and coastal division manager for Coastal Engineering Consultants, Inc.
A short-term solution would require moving 12,000 cubic feet of sand from the emergency dredging of Collier Creek to the affected areas in front of buildings 5000 and 6000. That project is waiting for county approval and the end of turtle nesting season.
Long-term, the committee considered replacing sand in tandem with adding three new T-groins and moving Collier Creek’s jetties to widen the waterway and reduce water flow. The committee hopes to work with the State of Florida and other agencies to develop a sustainable beach plan for the Hideaway Beach community.
In other discussions:
n Water quality in the Gulf of Mexico and Marco Island’s canals remains good. Bacteria results are low with total nitrogen elevated but within state standards. Elevation is normal in rainier months, said Nancy Ritchie, city liaison to the committee. There have been no algae blooms in the canals since June.
n Sea turtle season is coming to a close with six nests left to hatch. During the season, 65 nests were discovered with six nests’ hatchlings experiencing disorientation due to urban glow and beach topography.
n Twenty beachfront properties have agreed to sea oats plantings along adjacent dunes to control erosion, and 11 properties have agreed to lighting retrofits, funded by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, to reduce light trespass during sea turtle season.
n The committee would like to see greater beach policing either through municipal officers or volunteers. A comparison of Gulfcoast beaches showed that some kind of patrolling and enforcement took place on most public beaches. Policing could reduce environmental degradation and littering and curb behaviors that result in harm to fragile plants and endangered species.
n The committee is currently looking for a new member to fill an existing vacancy. Anyone interested should send a request and resume to City Clerk Laura Litzan, City of Marco Island, 50 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, FL, 34145, or fax to 239-389-4359.
The next Beach Advisory Committee meeting will be held at 9 a.m., Oct. 19, in City Hall’s 1st floor conference room. Public comment is always welcome. Beach cleanups are regularly scheduled. The next one is planned for 8 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16, at the South Beach boardwalk.