Stressing the three Cs – Communication, collaboration, commitment
By Pamela Nicholls, GSAC Board Member
Submit questions or feedback online
The Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) is back in town seeking to reignite their Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Feasibility Study for Collier County. The original report and recommendations stalled in October 2021 following hostile local opposition to some suggested measures, difficulties with environmental compliance and escalating costs owing to pandemic inflation and supply chain issues. A final report was never publicly released.
However, the Corps remained undeterred and appealed to Washington over a year ago for additional financing and time to reformulate the study with updated information. Their application for $2.97m in funding and a 3-year extension was approved last August. They have a deadline of August 2, 2025, to furnish a new rendition of the study.
The aim of a coastal storm risk management plan is to reduce the damage and erosion caused by coastal storms, improve resiliency along our beaches and protect our economic livelihoods. Ian is forecasted to be the costliest hurricane in Florida’s history with current estimates — including damages and lost economic activity — as much as $120 billion.
The 2021 plan included beach berm and dune nourishment, structural measures, and nonstructural measures including critical infrastructure across six planning areas. All elements will be looked at again in the reinitiated study, which like its predecessor, is 100% federally funded. Should any plan come out of it – one acceptable to County commissioners and approved by Congress — the County would pick up 35% of the cost of implementation. The Federal Government would be responsible for funding 65%.
The Collier County Board of Commissioners has yet to vote on reinitiating the study and remaining non-federal sponsors, but that scenario seems likely.
Commissioner Rick LoCastro said – “the Corps’ expertise is invaluable. This is a $6 million investment in analysis. We’d be fools not to read every single word of it.”
The Army Corps made its case to the County on January 24 and to the City on February 1. Both presentations stressed the importance of partnership and the three Cs – communication, collaboration and commitment. The Corps’ Colonel Bryan Hallberg, commander of the Norfolk District told commissioners “we want to work with the county, the municipalities and the communities to find an alternative plan acceptable to all.”
Both Hallberg and Michelle Hamor, chief of Flood Plain Management, promised the Corps would do a much better job than it did first time around, in engaging the City and reaching out to the public. She said far more emphasis would be placed on promoting community awareness and cooperation.
To that point she said that ACE was having regular meetings with County and City staff and planning virtual and in-person public meetings for April. The ACE website is also being redeveloped to include an interactive story map.
Click here for the ACE presentation pdf.
Go to tv.colliergov.net to watch the presentation to the County Board of Commissioners.
Click here to watch the video of the presentation made to City Council.