Hideaway Tax District Board strategizes on how to get beach built up

The Hideaway Beach Special Tax District Board strategizes on how to achieve beach renourishment on their beach at Marco Island's north end. The board met Tuesday at City Hall. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

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The Hideaway Beach Special Tax District Board strategizes on how to achieve beach renourishment on their beach at Marco Island's north end. The board met Tuesday at City Hall. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— The residents of Hideaway Beach want some more sand to guard their castles from the wrath of the sea. They voted last month to continue to tax themselves for the funds to "improve, renourish, preserve, maintain, monitor and provide public access to the beach property located within the boundaries of the District," although its fair to say that providing public access to the beach was not at the top of their concerns.

Public access is a major factor, though, in whether governmental agencies will provide public money to pay for renourishing the beach. As the Hideaway Beach Special Tax District Board heard at their meeting on Tuesday in the Niles Conference Room at City Hall, representatives from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, met at the site, took photographs of the Hideaway community's front gate, and walked around all the way to the Tigertail Beach entrance, the nearest public access point to Hideaway's beach.

Chris Sparacino, planner and flood plain coordinator for the city, told the board that FEMA had approved the tax district as an applicant for funding, but that is far from a guarantee of any funds actually being forthcoming. One point in the group's favor, said consultant Michael Poff of Coastal Engineering Consultants in Naples, was giving FEMA all the documentation they require upfront.

"They told us everything they needed, and Kris Thoemke (of Coastal Engineering) handed them an envelope and said, 'here it is,' " said Sparacino. Non-Hideaway members regularly access the beach via boats, FEMA was told, and several were doing just that when the FEMA team visited, helping to make the point.

Hideaway was once again turned down for tourism development funds, board attorney Bruce Anderson reported to the group, by a one-vote margin on the nine-member Tourist Development Council. Naples mayor and TDC member John Sorey voted against the project, as he has in the past.

"The project should go forward – I just don't want to pay for it," Anderson quoted Sorey as saying. Marco Marriott general manager and TDC vice chairman Rick Medwedeff, had been very positive on the Hideaway renourishment.

Marco City Councilor Jerry Gibson is also a member of the TDC.

"We keep eking out a narrow defeat," quipped Hideaway Beach Special Tax District Board Chairman Eric Brechnitz. The final decision on county funding will come from the Board of County Commissioners, he noted, and the Hideaway board will make their case at the county board's meeting on Oct. 23.

Brechnitz pointed out that the group is very anxious to get the beach renourishment project completed before the beginning of sea turtle nesting season, when regulations to protect the nests make such work much more difficult. Poff reported that Hurricane Isaac had caused a delay in the permitting process, ironically, as the storm had caused "significant damage" with flooding and mold at the headquarters of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) office that is dealing with the Hideaway permit application.

Hurricane Isaac – a tropical storm when it impacted Collier County – did not do enough damage locally to prompt a Federal disaster area declaration, so the Hideaway project cannot be funded under the category of an emergency. The board authorized an additional expenditure not to exceed $8,500 to help speed the permitting process in view of the bottleneck at the FWS.

With a daunting array of Federal, state, county and city governmental agencies to deal with, including the Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Marine Fisheries Service in addition to those already mentioned, one more regulatory body was thrown into the mix in Tuesday's meeting – the Florida DEP.

City of Marco Island Environmental Specialist Nancy Richie reported on a visit from the Dept. of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with an effort to remove vegetation that is blocking views from t-groins in front of portions of Hideaway Beach. Richie promised to email board members with an update on that effort, but cautioned them not to respond directly to each other, in deference to government in the sunshine rules.

The board's next meeting, still difficult to coordinate with members' travel schedules, is set for Oct. 30.

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Comments » 7

deltarome writes:

I continue to find it ironic that they won't let the public in to use the beach but expect the public to pay for the beach repairs and can't come up with more than $8500, which none of it actually went to moving any sand.

ajm3s writes:

Is Hideaway Beach a county beach?????


ajm3s writes:

Is it time to open the gate???????

Mayor_McCheese writes:

in response to ajm3s:

Is Hideaway Beach a county beach?????


All Florida beaches are public. This has to do with access. The public can use it if they can get there - either by boat of by walking all the was from Tigertale.

mrz333 writes:

I'm not sure why this section of beach is any different than any other on the island. Access to all Marco Beaches is restriced if not by access areas then parking. You're saying the beach at Hideaway can not be accessed because of "distance"? What would you suggest - tear down the trees and put up a paking lot? How about building a bridge to Keywadin Island or Cape Romano? Maybe all the waterfron lots on the island should be requires to put in 1 public parking space and restroom facilities! You guys are swinging after the bell when the other guy is back in his dressing room!


Pull up to any of our local hotels and try to park and walk thru with your chairs and coolers.

steel23 writes:

Slightly off topic, but wasn't there supposed to be a sand restoration taking place at the south end of the island which was already funded? Sorry if I missed the story!

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