Spending Public Money on Private Beaches

Gov Chris Christie enjoying his beach

Gov Chris Christie enjoying his beach

Forget about dumping more sand on erosion-damaged Hideaway Beach on Marco Island Florida, says a self-proclaimed activist in the ongoing battle over how tourist tax dollars should be spent. By BILLY BRUCE, Naples Daily News, November, 2003.

Graham Ginsberg, a Naples resident for the past 10 years and a regular beachgoer, says the powerful currents that swirl around Hideaway Beach will sweep away any renourishment efforts for years to come.

“You’ll be dumping sand here every five years and you’ll still get the same result,” Ginsberg said Nov. 10, as he guided his boat through a rough, wind- chopped surf around a shoreline that clearly showed serious erosion.

He believes a proposed renourishment project on Hideaway would waste millions in tourist tax revenues that could be better spent on projects that would benefit all residents, not just the private citizens of Hideaway Beach.

Ginsberg isn’t on any boards or committees, he doesn’t hold a political office, and he doesn’t like going to public meetings because, he said, they’re just “too confrontational.” But he said he’s determined to educate people on why he believes the parking and access problems at public locations in Naples deserve tourist money and why private land owners don’t.

As part of that effort, he’s launched a Web site which includes aerial photos of Hideaway and other area beaches. He believes the photos document just how difficult it is for the general public to access Hideaway Beach. The site also has links to articles on local beach issues and other material that A strong, river-like current that runs parallel to the shoreline pushes sand off the shore onto nearby Sand Dollar Island and creates a swimming situation that most lifeguards would have to be in top shape to battle, he noted.

“I wouldn’t want my kids swimming here,” Ginsberg said. “It’s very dangerous. …

You can see the power of its flow.”

Ginsberg believes only a permanent sea wall, like those installed around several locations on Marco, will keep the powerful tidal surges that are carving away Hideaway Beach from doing more damage.

Jim Snediker, who lives at Hideaway Beach, said county officials have a much more technical experience base from which to make such decisions than does Ginsberg. Snediker acknowledged that sand renourishment would have to occur every eight years or so, but said county engineers believe that’s the best course of action.

Ginsberg said he believes compromise between county officials, local environmentalists and Hideaway property owners could end the problem in a way that benefits everyone, but only if proposals to dump more sand on Hideaway are washed away by more realistic solutions, such as building a permanent sea wall in the worst locations.

“I’d even support the county paying for some of the seawall, say 20 percent, if it would forever make the Hideaway problem go away,” he said. “Then the county can look at spending the public’s money on projects that benefit all residents, not just private land owners.”

Webmaster Note: Jim Snediker, who lived at Hideaway Beach, was on their board and was an elected member of the Coastal Advisory Committee (CAC) in Collier County. Graham Ginsberg was later elected and joined the CAC. Jim Snediker, being a Hideaway Beach resident, stood to benefit from the sand being placed on the public beach at Hideaway Beach. Unfortunately for the public, this specific beach is very difficult to reach by foot, spanning a few miles round trip from Tigertail Beach, where there is public parking. This monumental effort to get to the beach is due to Hideaway Beach never offering the public parking in their community. Its private to residents of Hideaway Beach. Over the years there have been incidents at this beach and there are documented cases where the public have been threatened by individuals at Hideaway Beach to get off ‘their beach’.