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County Commissioners to vote on dredging Blind Pass

By Staff | Apr 25, 2012

The Lee County Commissioners will be voting May1 on whether to move forward with a unique opportunity to finish the dredging that will help keep Blind Pass open and save taxpayers money in the process.

Although Blind Pass has not yet closed, there is significant risk of its closing. Also, with the economic issues Lee County is facing, future funding for pass maintenance is a concern for many. Due to the Lee County Department of Natural Resources and Commissioner John Manning, the county has figured out how to fund a maintenance dredge for Blind Pass this summer.

The company that dredged the new beach on Fort Myers Beach is still in the area and are willing dredge Blind Pass at nearly 50-percent of the cost. In addition, because the Fort Myers Beach project came in under budget, there is money left that will help fund the dredging of Blind Pass.

The dredging company will remove 125,000 cubic yards of material, which is about 90 percent of what was removed during the initial dredging of the pass. One of the reasons Lee County plans to dredge that much is the design template has been modified so the pass will work more effectively.

This is considered a great opportunity to maintain the health of Blind Pass and the water quality of the bayous and waterways in the pass’ ecozone while saving the county a minimum of $570,000. This is also an opportunity for the community to be heard on the issue.

For those who are in the area and would like to attend the commissioners meeting, it’s at 9:30 a.m. May 1 in downtown Fort Myers. Anyone not currently in the area but would still like to voice their thoughts can send an email through www.lee-county.com under consent agenda item 8C. Comments must be posted by 11:59 p.m. April 29.

Recommended talking points include the need for dredging as a way to maintain the pass; benefits of better water quality in the pass’ ecosystem and Pine Island Sound, as well as marine life, fishing and tourism; saving substantial funds by performing maintenance dredging now, eliminating the need for mobilization and demobilization costs; and improving the working relationship with the dredging company, which is a known entity.