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Who should be responsible?

By Staff | Apr 9, 2009

Dear friends of the Sanibel Marina, boatmen and waterfront homeowners,

In a few days, we will once again commence dredging the Sanibel Inlet adjacent to Mariner Point, a project I have been involved with – either directly or indirectly – for over 40 years.

In the late 1960s, I hired a Fort Myers shrimper, Mr. Dave Green, who would for several evenings drag a large steel canister supported by several steel chains creating a pathway at least six feet in depth – until Vernon McKenzie, my neighbor at the time, shut us down for creating too much disturbance during cocktail hour.

In the early 1970s, I hired a drag line operator from Pine Island to come over and dredge while positioning himself on my three lots on the very west end of Lighthouse Way. Duane White once told me that if I did not stop placing spoil on these lots that eventually all the seawalls would explode.

Back in those days, I was racing my 42-foot Invader III up and down the west coast of Florida. Invader III drew six feet. Several years later, we were racing Invader IV, a 14-man offshore deep water racing machine. Invader IV drew nine feet.

After a year or two not being able to maintain the nine-foot depth, I eventually left her at the St. Pete Yacht Club where she held the title of Florida’s offshore racing champion.

So through the years, everyone – including the city fathers – simply assumed since Ireland owned the largest boat together with the Sanibel Marina, let the dredging project be his responsibility. While I understand the reasoning, I do not agree with the assumption – the Sanibel Inlet is used by hundreds and hundreds of boatmen on our end of the island. The Sanibel Inlet, when dredged, provides clean, clear, unspoiled water to flow through the entire canal systems creating the quality of water which encourages hundreds and hundreds of people to purchase waterfront homes and condominiums.

On the other hand, the city of Sanibel – surrounded by water – maintains roads, beaches, beautification projects and bike paths but totally ignores maintaining the main waterway entrance to our island.

Two years ago, the city agreed to chip in $15,000 towards a $70,000 dredging project. While I personally paid the contractor, the city as of this date has yet to pay one dollar.

In another 30 months, I’ll be 80 years old, so I believe it is time to reach a solution regarding this never-ending waterway maintenance required for ever and ever.

Fortunately for me, my friend Jerry Muench – a boater – shares a deep interest in our island and helps the marina in many areas, especially raising private funds and working with the city regarding the never-ending waterfront dredging dilemma which must be addressed every two or three years.

Hence the reason for this boring lengthy correspondence is to encourage all boatmen and waterfront homeowners should you feel that the maintenance of our waterway system not be the responsibility of one individual but the responsibility of the city of Sanibel to write our city fathers and advise them it is indeed time to consider reevaluating all waterway maintenance projects on our most precious island.

Myton W. Ireland

Owner and operator, Sanibel Marina