MARCO ISLAND — Watching beach houses on Plum Island, Mass., fall into the sea last week must have hit home for residents in Hideaway Beach’s 5000 and 6000 buildings.
For years they have seen Marco Island’s northern beachhead in front of their condominiums eroded by wind and storms. They have known that one hurricane, or a series of monster storms like those that battered the Northeast this year, could put them in the same predicament.
This week, residents learned they can breathe easier. The Hideaway Beach Taxing District Board announced Friday work will begin to build up the gated community’s northern beach. That action will save buildings perilously close to encroaching waters.
Engineers plan to reduce wave action that up until now has scoured previous renourishment attempts. New T-groins will be placed in the area of greatest loss and sand will be added to rebuild the beach.
The process has been laborious for the board, requiring years of permitting and accumulating enough money to fund the more than $1.7 million project. Two attempts to seek partial funding through Tourist Development Council funds failed.
On March 4, Marco Island city councilors learned the Collier County Board of County Commissioners approved a $350,000 grant for T-groin construction at Hideaway Beach.
Commissioner Tom Henning cast a key vote, noting Hideaway Beach was important to the physical protection of Marco as a barrier island.
The county also is responsible for maintaining Collier Pass that leads to Collier and Smokehouse bays. About 200 boats per week travel through the pass to visit the Esplanade. The pass required emergency dredging last year to provide safe passage for vessels. The T-groins should increase the number of years between dredging in the future.
Even with the grant and income received from Hideaway’s Municipal Service Taxing Unit, the project will need greater funding. The board plans to ask Marco Island’s City Council for a promissory note of $500,000. Terms would include interest of 2 percent and payback on or before Feb. 1, 2014. The request will come before council on March 18.
Michael Poff of Coastal Engineering Consultants, Inc. presented the board with his schedule of fees. As the principal engineering firm for the project, the company will provide surveys, monitoring, testing and administration during construction. Cost for services will be $199,930.
In addition, Huckleberry Environmental Services, Inc. will provide vegetation management at a cost of $2,000 per day. Work will include removing and relocating mangrove seedlings taller than six inches and applying herbicides to any remaining vegetation in the work area. Seedlings will be temporarily placed in a nursery next to the 7000 building. The board approved a purchase order of up to $30,000 for vegetation management.
Dredging and renourishment should be completed by May 12. T-groins and all other construction requirements should be done by mid-July.
“We are enormously grateful to the employees of the City of Marco Island for helping to make this happen,” board member Dick Freeman said at the end of the meeting. He also praised the board’s chairman, Erik Brechnitz, for the phenomenal effort he put forth to get the project done.
The board scheduled its next meeting for 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, in City Hall’s first floor conference room, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.