MARCO ISLAND — The sand has stayed, and the city will get paid.
Good news Thursday as Hideaway Beach’s Tax District Board reviewed final results of a beach erosion abatement project. The board’s members are stewards of Hideaway Beach’s Municipal Service Taxing Unit. The self-imposed tax pays for the gated community’s beach projects.
Paul Fernstrum presented photographs of Hideaway’s north beach along the Marco River. Work to replenish sand and install T-groins was completed on July 26 and was contracted to cost $1.6 million.
A wide swath of sand and new groins stood where just six months ago waves lapped perilously close to high-rises. With the sand and hard structure buffers, residents of Hideaway’s 5000 and 6000 buildings can breathe a sigh of relief.
Cash remaining in the district’s account totaled $353,431. Tim Pinter, Marco Island’s public works director, told the board two invoices totaling approximately $23,000 remained to be paid. The board approved the two payments to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida leaving $330,431 in the account.
Board Chairman Erik Brechnitz was pleased with the amount.
“We will get to the ad valorem cycle comfortably and should be able to pay the city back in January,” he said.
On March 18, Marco Island City Council approved a $500,000 short-term note for the project, supplying the last piece of financing needed for the project. The note expires Feb. 1, 2014, and carries an interest rate of 2.5 percent.
Board member Dick Delawder questioned monitoring costs for the project that ran over budget. Estimates before the erosion project ranged from $15,000 to $20,000. Actual costs turned out to be closer to $40,000.
Pinter and Nancy Richie, city environmental specialist, suggested bad estimating was to blame.
The board moved to next steps including post-project actions required by environmental agencies.
In the renourished area, replacement sand will need to be monitored for compaction. Monitoring will determine if the sand needs to be deep tilled before turtle nesting season.
If the sand fails, Hideaway will be required to till it. Hideaway will pay for the tilling, but could piggyback on Collier County’s contract to get a more favorable price.
Michael Poff of Coastal Engineering Consultants and Dave Addison, biologist from the Conservancy, agreed replenished sand in the region traditionally has failed compaction tests. Tilling will most likely be required, they said.
Physical monitoring on post-project changes will be more expensive. Reviews of beach and offshore profiles including borrow areas (where sand is extracted) must continue for five years. Estimates for the monitoring could top $40,000.
The board voted to put multi-year monitoring out for bid.
Delawder expressed concern about restricted tidal flow caused by sand deposits on an offshore spit and the recent closure of a breach in the spit’s arm. The closure could create a lagoon on Hideaway’s south beach similar to the one that appeared years ago at county-owned Tigertail Beach.
Hideaway has a 10-year dredging permit, but the southern area where sand is being deposited falls outside permitted borrow or dredging areas.
Richie said there was little that could be done. The area is designated critical to wildlife and cannot be dredged.
Board member Dick Freeman asked if the tax district could do anything about boat wake beating on the replenished north beach sand. The problem is caused when boats speed into the Marco River, he said.
City staff agreed the area falls under Marco Island jurisdiction. Richie said the committee should take up the matter with the city’s Police Department.
The board will meet at 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 7, to review consolidated expenses for future monitoring.