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Town Council/County restoration fiasco

July 25, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

The July 11 issue of the Fort Myers Beach Observer headlined the growing emergency need to dredge Matanzas Pass only three years after the last dredging. What is more alarming is this has occurred less than a year after the completion of the vaunted Beach Restoration Project that was designed to keep the Pass open!

That so-called "engineered beach project" included a groin or a stone jetty created at the upper end of Bowditch Point to keep the Pass open. That was the key feature of this Beach Restoration Project, led by Steve Boutelle and blessed by Town Council

That project is a failure.

A little history: originally the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed an 800-foot groin at Bowditch Point. County apparently rejected that design and two decades ago hired Humiston and Moore, a noted beach engineering firm, for recommendations. They recommended two groins with different placements, sizes and designs. Fast-forward to three years ago, when County proposed their current groin design that failed in a year!

As Council deliberated on this project, I invested a lot of effort to show the mayor and Town manager the new technology approved by Florida, that Humiston and Moore had employed at Gordon Pass in Naples and successfully applied elsewhere in the state.

Town Council could not wait to use new technology but had to act so the project would be completed in 2010, as promised by Lee County Natural Resources Manager Boutelle. That project was completed over a year later than promised Town Council and is now down in flames!

The beach is eroding, the groin did not work and Council allowed County to waste millions on this project.

For years, our Town Council tried hard to pour $1million of Town money down the drain on the failed 4.6-mile re-nourishment project. Fortunately, the re-nourishment project was killed by the beachfront owners who knew the Lover's Key re-nourishment failed, as did Bonita Beach re-nourishment several times.

Your taxpayer dollars keep the County staff employed using old technology that fails while expecting different results from their same old technology efforts. But, they have good paying jobs!

Frank Schilling

Fort Myers Beach



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