A 'no-brainer' decision
October 13, 2010
To the editor,
I can easily remember that morning some 25 years ago...I'm on my way to Futral's Feed Store in East Fort Myers. The whole drive there and back I spent worrying about what our future would be. Futral's was the only place in town that sold sand bags.
At that time I was working for my parents, Red and Betty Jensen. They had, a few years earlier, invested their entire life's savings into some Captiva beachfront property. That trip to Futral's was just the beginning of my part in the attempt to save my parent's dream for the future.
Back on Captiva, with shovel in hand, I was filling bags to stack and protect our Jensen's On The Gulf Motel. It seemed futile as I looked south along Captiva Drive, with the waves crashing over the rocks onto the roadway. Shortly after, that very same road would wash away in front of 'Tween Waters Inn and all traffic would have to be diverted through their beautiful property.
Today, standing in front of 'Tween Waters, looking up the road toward Jensen's On The Gulf, it's hard to imagine the situation I just described... even though that's what really did happen a few years ago. Fortunately nowadays, thanks to the combined efforts of the Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD) and the cooperation of county, state and federal governments, Captiva property owners have a program in place that protects Captiva's beaches. This program is called Beach Nourishment.
The beautiful Captiva beach we all currently enjoy, but take for granted, is the result of planning efforts performed by the CEPD in the form of Beach Nourishment projects. These projects are scheduled and engineered to take place right at the best time to counteract natural beach sand loss due to erosion and is critical in preventing property loss. When organizing these projects, the most important job of the CEPD is to secure governmental funding, as this reduces Captiva property owners' costs.
Our dollars spent in cost-shared beach nourishment projects have proven to be a remarkable investment. Our assessments in the past have been an investment which produced better than a 6-to-1 rate of return, as property values and tourism dollars multiply when a healthy, recreational beach is in place. A further reward to the investment is the increased road and property protection which safeguards our property values. As Captiva's beautiful beaches are enjoyed by all those who visit our area, all of Lee County gathers benefits from increased tourist dollars and property taxes.
Even though the current economic crisis has drastically affected our resources, these facts add up to a "no-brainer" decision as to whether or not to spend our dollars. We now know the government funding still remaining will only help communities (1) whose projects have the best planning, (2) are ready to go, and (3) have a commitment from property owners to participate in the funding of a project.
CEPD's engineers anticipate Captiva's next beach nourishment project will be necessary in the years 2013-14, unless conditions deteriorate unexpectedly. The CEPD has chosen to ask Captiva's voters to approve a referendum on Nov. 2. This approval would allow the CEPD to obtain maximum cost sharing dollars, and obtain financing at a better rate with advance planning and execution of a better project.
I urge Captiva voters to vote "Yes" to approve Captiva's Erosion Prevention District's referendum on November's ballot and allow them to save property owners as much as possible.