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Who is to blame for not dredging the ‘Miserable Mile’?

By Staff | May 13, 2015

To the editor:

Who is to blame for not operating and maintaining the miserable mile portion of the intracoastal waterway in Lee County? Is it the federal government for not granting the funding or is it the West Coast Inland Navigation District , which, according to state statutes, is authorized to operate and maintain the Intracoastal waterways?

At the April 6 meeting of the WCIND, Mr. Mora of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers noted that there were no funds for budget year 15/16 for the Miserable Mile.. WCIND Board then approved a motion to notify the Congressional Delegation of their concerns.

Lee County is setting on over $4 million of excess cash in the West Coast Inland Navigation District’s account. This account is one that all property taxpayers of Lee County pay into for the maintaining and dredging of the intracoastal waterways.

Instead of using the funds available to dredge the intracoastal waterways of Lee County our commissioners are spending an average of $1.5 million a year on things other than dredging. This is budgeted spending for each year and it does not put a dent into the amount of funds Lee County has left in the account when the following budget year comes.

Below is the current budgeted items that Lee County has authorized WCIND to spend in Lee County:

Countywide navigation improvements, $150,000; Marine law enforcement, $560,000; Derelict vessel removal, $50,000; Pine Island Commercial Marina, $700,000 with an additional outside funding of $200,00 taken from Lee County boaters registration fees.

Fire Districts. $38,713; LCSO marine unit boating safety, $7,230; Edison Sailing Center, $18,039; Island High School’s Green house. $172,000; Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum – What is a Shell Exhibit. $45,000.

Total expenditures approved by Lee County Commissioners $1,774,516 plus the $200,000 from boaters’ registration fees.

I did focus on only one aspect of the spending by WCIND that was based upon what our County Commissioners had voted on to have WCIND spend funds on and what has become known as Lee County funds.

I also believe that some of the expenditures approved by our County Commissioners are not in keeping with the state requirements that funds expended by WCIND has to be directly related to waterways. I based this upon the expenditures listed above.

Maybe Lee County plans are to let all of our waterways get so bad that no one wants to boat. Then they could save more money to spend on additional green houses for high schools.

Leo Amos