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Federal funding could skip some of Southwest Florida’s coast

Several areas in Southwest Florida are concerned that they’re being passed over for federal funding. The worry is that some of our coastal areas may not be fully protected.

Just a few minutes from the shoreline sits Marco Island Center for the Arts. Right outside of the center is a time capsule. It’s set to be opened in 2070.

Hyla Crane is the executive director for the Marco Island Center for the Arts. “We want to know that the island will be here safe and beautiful in 2070 and forever,” Crane said.

But Crane is worried they may not even be there in 2070 due to the ever-increasing threat of storm surge.

The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a multi-billion dollar plan to provide coastal resiliency to Collier County.

But those on Marco Island say they feel forgotten, citing that they weren’t included in plans for beach renourishment and dune enhancement.

Marco Island City Council drafted a letter to U.S. Representative Byron Donalds outlining their concerns. Jared Grifoni is Marco Island City Council’s Chairman. “We need to make sure that not only our citizens are properly taken care of and addressed but the concerns of wildlife and just our overall environment,” Grifoni said.

They’re not the only ones feeling left out, either. Doug Hagerman lives in Naples Cay.

“So we get to live next to an ugly wall every day but we don’t get any protection from the plan. We will be completely exposed to coastal storm surge they just drew the boundary south of us and left us out,” said Hagerman.

Those in Pelican Bay feel that this plan has left them exposed as well. Jim Hoppensteadt is the president and COO of the Pelican Bay Foundation.

“When you leave holes in those types of storm mitigation measures you’re basically just forcing the water to come through different areas,” Hoppensteadt said.

They are all looking for a mutually beneficial solution.

WINK News did reach out to the Army Corps of Engineers to ask about the concern in these communities but we have not yet heard back. They hope to get funding from congress next year and begin construction in 2025.

U.S. Representative Byron Donalds did provide WINK News with a statement:

““The health and vitality of our water and coastlines in Florida’s 19th Congressional District are of utmost importance. I will continue working with all appropriate stakeholders to ensure our community has the resources necessary to preserve our area’s natural aesthetic. My office has notified the Marco Island City Council of receipt of their letter. We remain in communication with them and other local leaders and federal entities in providing answers and working toward an equitable solution for all parties.”

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Drew Hill
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