Saturday, January 29, 2022

More Sand to Improve Marco’s Beaches

Marco Island’s wide pristine beaches are world famous and much enjoyed by its residents and visitors. It is the number one tourist attraction, and the primary economic driver, not only for Marco, but for Collier County. Marco’s beaches are also an active habitat for many endangered species, such as loggerhead sea turtles and migratory birds.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), approximately 57% of Florida’s beaches are experiencing erosion. Tropical storms, hurricanes and erosions can cause significant damage to beaches. To restore and maintain the pristine nature of Marco’s beaches, re-grading or renourishment projects are necessary.

Project Scope

Gary McAlpin, Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management Director, appeared before the Marco Island City Council recently to provide an update on the upcoming beach re-nourishment project scheduled for the central beaches of Marco Island in November.

According to McAlpin, the main portion will be about 155,000 cubic yards with sand to be dredged from offshore. The dredging crew will excavate daily from 6 AM to 8 PM until the project is done. It will start from the gulf side of South Seas Towers to the Madeira Condominiums.

Federal and state project permits have been obtained and the project is ready for a November start. The county hopes to finish the project before the start of the 2019 sea turtle season. Material will be taken from an intertidal zone and moved up to the dune line, reshaping it to create positive drainage. This project will eliminate low spots on the beach that become small ponds during rainy season, where fresh water accumulates and bacteria grows.

According to McAlpin, “If we’re going to build resiliency into the beach program and do a better job of resisting storm surges, the more mass you can put on the beach, the better you are. Directionally, that’s the right thing we have to do.”

Tourism Pays For All That Sand!

Collier County Ordinance 2005-43 levies a four percent (4%) Tourist Development Tax on all rental income received from accommodations rented for six (6) months or less. Revenues collected are used for the extensive beach renourishment projects and inlet management programs, along with museum and special events in Collier County.

Between fiscal years 2012 through 2016, Collier County collected $93.2 million in tourist tax revenues. Marco Island contributed $22.3 million during this time frame while Naples contributed $23.1 million – an almost equal amount. During this same time frame, Collier County spent $14.4 million on Naples’ Beach renourishment projects while Marco was ONLY allocated $5.1 million for their beach renourishment projects. In other words, Marco contributed to the County essentially the same amount of Tourist Development Tax dollars as Naples, but received back about one third less in beach renourishment dollars. This seems unfair, especially considering the state of Marco’s beaches during the rainy season.

For more information on Marco’s beach renourishment project, call Collier County Coastal Zone Management Director Gary McAlpin at 239-252-5342.

3 responses to “More Sand to Improve Marco’s Beaches”

  1. Harbor View says:

    Thanks very much for this article on the restoration of our beach. I also appreciate your publishing of the dollar numbers involved here.

    You state that Marco “received back about one third less (than Naples) in beach renourishment dollars”, even though Marco’s contribution nearly equaled the contribution of Naples over the period 2012-2016 (Marco’s contribution: $22.3 Million, funds received back for beach renourishment: $5.1 Million vs. Naples’ contribution of $23.1 million, while receiving back $14.4 for its beaches). I agree when you write “this seems unfair, especially considering the state of Marco’s beaches during the rainy season”.

    But if I may, those figures are even more shocking, and more unfair, than you stated. In fact, Marco received back for its beaches only about 23% of its tax contribution, while Naples received back about 62% of the taxes it collected for Collier Co. Thus Marco received back not one third, but almost two thirds less than Naples.
    Put another way, had Marco received the same percentage of taxes contributed, we would have received $13.9 million for our beaches, not the $5.1 million we actually got. That is to say, Marco was shortchanged, compared to Naples, by some $8.9 million.
    Put yet another way, Marco should have received 270% more dollars for our beaches than we were allocated. And these funds were very much needed – our beach has been in disrepair, and often “underwater” for some time now.

    It is a positive development that hopefully sufficient funds are now being allocated to Marco to restore our beach (time will tell), but the fact that we have been so unfairly, and massively, shortchanged in the recent past raises serious questions.
    Is Marco sufficiently represented on the governing bodies of Collier County, where these allocations are decided?
    Have our representatives neglected their duties, or failed to represent our interests as effectively as they should have?
    I would appreciate hearing from our representatives to Collier County on this — how do they explain Marco being shortchanged like this?

    Finally, how can we avoid being so massively shortchanged on such an important issue in the future? This needs to be further investigated.

  2. Dave Olenick says:


    On our last visit at the end of November there was no evidence of progress on this project.

    Any update?

  3. Neil Halleen says:

    Will this project be finished in 2019?

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