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Vote yes on the Nov. 2 beach referendum

By Staff | Oct 8, 2010

To the Editor,

My wife Carolyn and I have deep roots on Captiva. However, to our dismay, the 1980’s taught us that our Captiva dream home, an important investment in our future, was rooted in a rapidly eroding beach. Houses and property developed on barrier islands often need serious protection from storms and destructive erosion. As you know, Mother Nature can be cruel and oblivious to people’s dreams. We needed protection from the erosion which was eating away our beach.

Those who weren’t here to see the houses and roads which washed away in the past need to take a trip to the island of Upper Captiva; see for yourself what Captiva looked like as its beach washed away. You owe it to your family and your dreams to get involved and be informed. It’s up to you to assure your dreams have a good foundation, because our reality is that Captiva’s beach could disappear if left unprotected.

A few years after buying our Captiva dream home, we found ourselves and our neighbors spending an unexpected $25,000 just to create a wall of protective rocks on the beach. Because of the onslaught of beach erosion, we found we needed to take action to prevent our homes from collapsing into the Gulf.

It became obvious we soon wouldn’t have much of a beach; we learned that our rocks wouldn’t be enough to preserve our beach. Equally frightening, we found that a small group vehemently opposed protecting the disappearing beach. Such opposition to nourishment appeared to be for reasons that seemed selfish, irrational and short-sighted. Later I realized that there were engineering variables some residents simply couldn’t understand, this vocal minority thought the cost just wasn’t worth it.

Every year, new Captiva residents arrive and don’t know much about the Captiva Erosion Prevention District (CEPD) or the days when Captiva (and our dreams) almost washed away. Property and businesses these days have far greater value than in the 1980’s and there are always new dreams as well.

For those who don’t know our history, don’t be apathetic; learn from community memory.

For example, despite that this minority opposition was an impediment to CEPD nourishment; as soon as Captiva Drive started washing away many of the naysayers got the much needed wake-up call. Having failed to pass a beach nourishment referendum earlier, Captivans were thrilled in the late 80’s when the CEPD beach referendum finally did pass. The referendum barely passed in the nick of time.

Captiva’s beloved beach was eventually nourished island-wide in 1989; of course, the rest is a pleasant history of repeated successes. Residents and businesses new to Captiva cannot take our beach for granted; CEPD needs to nourish our beach every eight to 10 years, depending on storm activity. With beach nourishment we enjoy and get the protection of a great beach; without beach nourishment, eventually, we may not have an island.

My family never regrets supporting CEPD beach nourishments; I ran for the CEPD Board of Commissioners to insure Captiva preserves its beaches.

It’s true that Captiva realized six fold increases in total island property values over the 20 years following the island-wide beach nourishment. Equally important, a cherished part of Kaiser family history survives and thrives. Our home and beach were saved, Captiva prospered and we give thanks for CEPD’s beach nourishment program. Our five children and ten grandchildren can continue to enjoy their beach days.

If you take your beach for granted, we may not have a beach. If CEPD fails to nourish the beach every eight to 10 years or so, we likely won’t have a beach. Without beach nourishment, we eventually won’t even have an island. You won’t regret the smartest decision you may ever make for Captiva’s future.

Come to the CEPD Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Please contact CEPD (472-2472) for more details, but don’t forget to vote YES on the CEPD beach referendum on Nov. 2.

Henry A. Kaiser

CEPD Commissioner