Hideaway Beach continues to look for funds, passes emergency declaration

A crowd of Hideaway Beach residents, city staff and interested citizens attend the Hideaway Beach Tax District Board meeting Monday. The board continued to grapple with funding for a beach erosion control plan. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

A crowd of Hideaway Beach residents, city staff and interested citizens attend the Hideaway Beach Tax District Board meeting Monday. The board continued to grapple with funding for a beach erosion control plan. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Hideaway Beach Tax District Board members set a schedule to take their proportionality plan to county commissioners. From left are board Chairman Erik Brechnitz, Paul Furnstrum, Dick Freeman and Attorney Bruce Anderson. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

Hideaway Beach Tax District Board members set a schedule to take their proportionality plan to county commissioners. From left are board Chairman Erik Brechnitz, Paul Furnstrum, Dick Freeman and Attorney Bruce Anderson. Cheryl Ferrara/Eagle Correspondent

— Hideaway Beach will be seeking $415,000 for erosion control from the county's general fund.

Michael Poff, consultant from Coastal Engineering, determined the amount would support proportionality, a ratio to equate future cost savings for the county if it provides money for T-groins now. The Hideaway Beach Tax District Board asked for the analysis after county commissioners opened the door to requesting general funds for the sand control structures.

Poff based the ratio on reduced dredging events in Collier Creek if erosion of Hideaway Beach could be slowed. The analysis found the county was engaged in dredging on a 7.4-year cycle. The county paid $260,000 for emergency dredging of the creek in 2012.

The analysis concluded T-groin installation could increase the time period between dredging events. Without the T-groins, each event could cost the county $315,000 plus $100,000 for design and permit fees.

Hideaway's first hurdle will be garnering county staff support. Erik Brechnitz, chairman of the tax board, said the plan would need Gary McAlpin in its corner to move forward. McAlpin is coastal zone management director for Collier County.

The entire cost of the project has not been determined, but the lowest bid for construction and sand replacement is approximately $1.57 million. Additional costs for engineering, permits and environmental monitoring are still being negotiated.

Hideaway has approximately $1.2 million in cash raised through its Municipal Service Taxing Unit. The gated community taxes itself 2.6 mils per year to provide beachfront protection.

Even if Hideaway receives funds from the county, it still will need to borrow money to complete the project. At its Jan. 28 meeting, the board agreed to look for short-term financing through tax-exempt bonds. Brechnitz reported the search thus far yielded two interested parties: SunTrust and Fifth Third Bank.

The board discussed two avenues for paying back the loan. One would require Hideaway to maintain its MSTU level of 2.6 mils and pay the loan back quickly. The other would allow the MSTU levy to be reduced to 1.5 mils with a 4-year payback.

Bruce Anderson, attorney for the board, cautioned that state law mandated requirements for government entities paying back loans. Paybacks exceeding 12 months require a validation process and State Attorney review. The requirements apply because Marco Island administers Hideaway's MSTU.

Validation allows a chance for the public to speak on the loan. It also takes 90 days and costs about $20,000, Anderson said. The additional time would move the project dangerously close to turtle nesting season and allow sand loss to increase.

To cover all bases, the board passed an emergency declaration outlining its precarious situation with dangerous erosion near buildings and work restrictions imposed by turtle nesting and other species of special concern.

Tim Pinter, the city's public works director, said he would add acceptance of the low bid contract to city council's agenda for Monday, Feb. 4. He cautioned that a notice to proceed could not take place until all permits were obtained.

Nancy Richie, city environmental specialist, said she would schedule a pre-construction meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 12. The meeting with all government agencies, the contractor, the city, and environmental monitors is required by March 5.

Board members agreed to meet again at 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15. The meeting will be held in City Hall's 1st floor conference room, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.

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marconan writes:

Why is the lady in the picture the only one smiling?

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