By Pam Nicholls, GSAC Board Member
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The Norfolk District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has requested extra time and more funds to revise its plan to improve coastal resiliency and strengthen coastal defenses in Collier County.
It is understood the original, multibillion-dollar Coastal Storm Risk Management plan, which called for major infrastructure, including sector gates and flood walls, fell afoul of environmental compliance. It was equally unpopular with the city and the communities in Pelican Bay, Seagate and Marco Island.
A memorandum written last October by District Commander Brian Hallberg to the Corps’ North Atlantic Division Commander, requested approval of an additional 33 months and $2.98 million to reformulate the plan so it would focus more on natural defenses and do away with most of the structural elements.
Colonel Hallberg justified the extra time and expense to perform the “updated modeling” which was necessary to revise the Recommended Plan as a beach nourishment and nonstructural measure-focused solution.”
Hallberg’s recommended alternative removes the structural elements previously recommended. “All structural measures would be screened out on the basis that environmental compliance cannot reasonably be achieved at the level of design desired by the cooperating agencies during the feasibility study.”
Should higher command approve Hallberg’s recommendation, the USACE would now focus solely on “beach nourishment and nonstructural” measures. Hallberg states this would be “the best path forward.”
The original plan called for wider berms and 12ft dunes on nearly 10 miles of shoreline, from Wiggins Pass to Gordon Pass. But some stretches of coastline were left out. Pelican Bay and Naples Cay condominium associations protested the lack of provision for natural coastal defenses in their sector, a complaint noted in Hallberg’s memo.
“Many comments received during the public review of the draft report requested a more in-depth explanation of why some Planning Areas were screened from consideration for beach and structural measures. Marco Island and the Pelican Bay communities were particularly disappointed in a lack of beach nourishment recommendation in their areas and sent multiple letters to record their position. The City of Naples, encompassing multiple planning areas, also conditionally withdrew their support of the project in a written resolution and stated that future involvement and support would be contingent upon additional coordination and consideration for beach nourishment measures.”