EAST NAPLES — Two projects to add sand to Marco Island and mainland beaches are still on track despite a revote Tuesday by Collier County commissioners.
Commissioners had voted 4-1 in April to pursue state and federal permits for the projects, but later agreed to Commissioner Tom Henning's request to reconsider the vote amid questions about which beaches are most in need of more sand.
Henning said he wanted to talk about dropping the Marco project and using the money for a larger, cash-strapped project on stretches of beach between Naples and Vanderbilt Beach.
On Tuesday, commissioners voted 5-0 to move ahead with the Marco project after getting assurances from city of Marco Island attorney Burt Saunders that the city would work with county staff to try to scale back the project and set aside the savings to shore up eroded shoreline at Hideaway Beach on Marco.
Collier County officials have proposed a $1.8 million beach widening project on a southernmost stretch of Marco beach and a $1.2 million project to repair structures to keep sand from washing away. The project is on track to get started later this year.
Commissioner Georgia Hiller suggested that, in addition to the repair, only sand lost during Tropical Storm Fay in 2008 should be put back on the beach with $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In April, Hiller cast the sole dissenting vote when commissioners agreed to the combined Marco and mainland beach projects, saying the $31 million price tag for the mainland project is too expensive and not necessary. Hiller remained opposed Tuesday.
"You are simply wasting money," Hiller told county staff members.
Hiller pushed for the county to use an existing beach renourishment permit, which expires in 2015, to bring the beaches back to the size and shape they were after the last major renourishment in 2006.
"It's going to save us a boatload of money and get us to where we want to be," Hiller said.
Other commissioners, though, backed a plan to seek a new permit for a 2013 project that would build the beach wider and higher to save money by lengthening the time between beach projects.
In a tweak from April, commissioners directed county staff to look at the possibility of an emergency beach widening project later this year in front of the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club and the Vanderbilt Beach Resort.
Collier County hoteliers urged commissioners to speed up the beach renourishment timetable because they are the county's No. 1 economic asset.
"I simply don't understand why the commission has not been better stewards," Vanderbilt Beach Resort owner Mick Moore told commissioners.