Sanibel Making Moves to Nourish Beaches

by SC Reporter Reese Holiday

The City of Sanibel has made several moves within the past month to improve the island’s beaches for economic, environmental, and community enjoyment purposes.

These moves, many of which were discussed and approved in city council meetings, include the shoreline stabilization project at Turner Beach Park, several funding agreements for beach nourishment projects, and city council motions in terms of the management of Blind Pass.

These projects were created to improve the quality of Sanibel’s beaches, by preventing things like erosion, so that the community can enjoy them in a way that makes sense economically to the city, according to the City Council of Sanibel.

At Turner Beach Park, the shoreline stabilization project is using funds from the Lee County Tourist Development Council to improve drainage, ADA accessibility, dune restoration, and the prevention of shoreline erosion. The project began on Sept. 8, with the city contracting Thomas Marine Construction, Inc., and is scheduled to finish on Nov. 6.

Along with providing funding for the Turner Beach Park project, the city council unanimously approved grants in an Oct. 6 meeting from the TDC for Beach and Shoreline Erosion Survey, an amount not to exceed $40,000, as well as for Facility/Beach Maintenance-Erosion Control, an amount not to exceed $1,626,600.

In the same meeting, the city council also unanimously supported an application to receive funding from the Florida Beach Management Funding Assistance Program for fiscal year 2021-2022 as part of the Sanibel Island Beach Nourishment Program.

These approved funding agreements for beach nourishment projects are meant to reduce the overall amount that the city has to pay in order to improve their beaches.

Sanibel’s city council also had discussions about the management of Blind Pass in a Sept. 14 meeting. Here, they discussed the 2000-15 interlocal agreement where the city of Sanibel worked with Captiva to help maintain both of the island’s beaches.

Since that agreement has expired, Sanibel’s city council has decided not to enter a new interlocal agreement with the Captiva Erosion Prevention District, and instead decided to work with the Lee County Inlet Management Plan in order to receive sand that will be placed on North Sanibel beaches.

“Hearing consensus across the desk, I think the direction would be that we tell Captiva we’re not able to participate at the moment,” said Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane in a council meeting.

Despite not agreeing to another interlocal deal with Captiva, Sanibel would still like to keep a strong relationship with their sister island, potentially leaving the door open for future collaborations.

“I think we tell Captiva that we’d like to keep the door open,” Ruane said. “We’ll assist in any way possible, relative to staging or any other cooperation we can give.”

As Sanibel continues with their various amounts of beach nourishment projects, their slices of paradise, sand and all, will continue to improve so that both the environment and the community can enjoy them.

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