CREATED Jul. 25, 2013
CAPTIVA ISLAND, Fla. - A multi-million dollar project slated to begin next week to renourish beaches on Captiva Island has been postponed after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week it is withdrawing its $8 million in funding for the project. Today, Captiva officials, business owners and residents demanded answers from the Corps of Engineers during an afternoon meeting.
"This has been a major blow for us," said Henry Kaiser, board member for Captiva Erosion Prevention District. "We did not have any inclination of this and we have been working on this for years."
Colonel Alan Dodd with the Corps of Engineers said after further analysis of the project, the Corps determined Captiva's beaches did not meet requirements of being public beaches.
"In order to receive support in the federal program, you need to have public access both in easements and parking so people can park nearby," Colonel Dodd said.
The project would renourish the beaches after damage from past tropical storms. The only road through the island sits just feet from the beach at some points, so Kaiser said undergoing a restoration project is critical not just for tourism with the beaches, but for safety.
"You can errode beaches but more importantly, you can erode the road and we don't want to see that again because then there's no evacuation," he said.
Jeff Shuff, general manager of 'Tween Waters Inn, said his business is almost entirely dependent on the beaches.
"If we don't renourish, we'll lose the beach," Shuff said.
Kaiser said since the project has lost $8 million in funding from the Corps, residents and business on Captiva will have to make up for those additional costs. He did not have an estimation yet of how much those costs will be.