COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- After much debate and discussion, Collier County commissioners approved spending nearly one million dollars to help beach re-nourishment at Hideaway Beach in Marco Island.
The situation is so bad, the Marco Island council declared an emergency situation for the area.
It has been an ongoing issue for years, but some commissioners debated whether their $925,000 contribution was too big a piece of the pie, and whether public dollars should help a problem at a private beach.
In the end, commissioners voted 4-1 to move forward with the funding.
Hideaway Beach residents like Erik Brechnitz are ready for some improvements to their Marco Island oasis, as years of erosion eats away at the shore.
"It's critical, at high tide we have water getting into the garages of the buildings. We have 65 families in building 6000 and they are in high anxiety mode at the moment," Brechnitz says.
He is also the chairman of the Hideaway Beach Tax District. He says the public versus private land and funds have always been an issue. "We fully admit we don't have public access every quarter of a mile which is required for TDC (tourist development council) funding, but the statute clearly has exceptions."
Commissioners will pay to help build erosion control structures which will not only help the beach, but also reduce the cost of dredging the public channel nearby.
Commissioner Donna Fiala, who represents Marco Island, was pleased to move the project forward after all this time. "It was very important for the public benefit, for the boaters. One of the problems we were having before we were dredging the sand, boaters couldn't get through, I was getting complaints and complaints," she says.
But Commissioner Georgia Hiller wanted more information on the public benefit of the project. "To what extent is the public contribution matching the public benefit?," she asked.
The residents of Hideaway Beach will foot the rest of the bill, about $1 million. They hope to have the work completed by mid-year 2013. Brechnitz is hopeful it's a done deal. "Obviously we're happy with it but I'm not so certain the discussion is over. There is a new commission that will be seated soon and could ask for reconsideration."
Hideaway Beach is on the northern part of Marco Island and is hard to get to without a boat.