Collier County commissioner finds storm protection plan lacking

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Credit: WINK News.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a multibillion-dollar project to protect communities in Collier County from storms. Some Collier County leaders are skeptical and say this plan doesn’t go far enough and isn’t worth the price tag.

We asked Collier County Board of County Commissioners and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their responses on the project’s pros and cons.

Collier Commissioner Penny Taylor runs a task force in response to the Army Corps plan, and she has decided it’s not the right fit for the county.

“It also represents a plan that picks winners and losers,” Taylor said. “There are total neighborhoods — Seagate, south Naples, Marco Island, Pelican Bay — there’s no protection for them. They are not included in the plan.”

Taylor also doesn’t like the plan to put up walls and tall dunes. That would make Collier beaches less appealing.

“Only 36% of the properties would be protected,” Taylor said.

That leaves a majority of Collier County’s properties unprotected.

In a statement the Army Corps said, “The study team is working to address questions in a policy and legal compliance (internal) review, and … there could be changes to the current plan as a result.”

Mike Rogan loves walking up and down Lowdermilk Beach in front of his condo.

“It’s a spectacular lifestyle that I never imagined I would ever experience, but I can’t see me not being here,” Rogan said.

Stronger hurricanes and storm surge might threaten that lifestyle, and we told Rogan about the debate over the project.

“Great thought needs to be put into this,” Rogan said.

Collier County commissioners will discuss the Army Corps’ plan during their Sept. 14 meeting.

Whatever happens, Rogan hopes he can continue to walk the beach, and he’ll enjoy his slice of paradise for as long as possible.

“If we have to become the Netherlands and put in dikes, OK, fine, let’s face that,” Rogan said. “If we can live the way we’ve been living, I would prefer it.”

MORE: Collier County Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study

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