Captiva Island property owners are about to get an invoice in the mailbox.
Owners holding some 1,108 properties are on the hook for about $5.7 million of a project designed to replace sand lost to erosion and storms. The three-month Captiva Beach Renourishment Project cost nearly $20 million. The work replenished sand to nearly five miles of exquisite Captiva beachfront. The work ended in December. It is considered vital in protecting the region from storm damage, but nice beaches with fluffy sand also attract investment and tourists. Captiva is rated among the world's finest vacation spots.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initially had pledged $8 million towards the project, but yanked the funding due to technical issues related to easement and beach access, causing howls of resentment at the last-second decision. Lee County in 2013 upped its commitment to the project by $1 million to $7.1 million. Other sources covered all but $5.7 million in the restoration project.
The bottom-line is that Captiva must pony up the balance. Letters to individual property owners go out beginning May 19. There will be a June 5 public meeting at the 'Tween Waters Inn/Resort, where property owners can voice concerns, applaud the decision. But it won't change much, officials concede. The 5:01 p.m. meeting time has the flavor of a final notice.
Some contention was raised May 13 by Mike Mullins, chair of the Captiva Community Panel, the island's oversight group, voicing doubts about the formula for spreading the debt fairly among property owners. Mullins inferred he absorbed a large bill for a 2010 renourishment project, that homes were assessed differently based on the number of structures on a private residence, he said. Multiple structures could signify rental or multifamily, but not necessarily, Mullins said. The formula is largely based on home value, but the recreational and storm-benefit value are also figured into the complicated formula.
"Homesteaders should be considered differently that second home (owners)," Mullins said.
The invoice could be as low as $500, but go well above that figure considering the extreme value of some of Captiva's beachfront homes. Every property will receive a bill. Property owners will have the choice of paying the bill upfront, or spreading it over seven years, officials with the governing Captiva Erosion Prevention District said.