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Naples, private groups settle nine-year seawall dispute

Posted at 11:27 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 23:27:48-04

NAPLES, FLA — If you head down to Gulf Shore Boulevard North in Naples, you'll see a temporary solution to a nearly 10-year-old problem.

"Actually, I was on city council when it was brought forward and we actually as the city repaired it in a very patchwork way," said Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann.

It's a quick fix on a stretch of seawall, that Heitmann says could eventually lead to some serious consequences, without a more permanent solution.

"I mean it's a safety issue," she said.

That's because the seawall acts as a connector between private properties like the Venetian Bay Yacht Club, condos and a local plaza, and a public road.

But that very important connection led to a lot of confusion and ultimately a nine-year legal battle between the city and those private groups. Neither side could figure out who was responsible for the repairs.

Documents dating back to 2012, show that the city "assumed those sections of walls were private," and after some back and forth, in 2018m it filed a formal suit against those private groups to try and make them fix it.

It's a battle that cost the city its time and more than $360,000 tax dollars. It's also a battle that Mayor Heitmann says should and could have been wrapped up years ago.

"When I became mayor I was shocked that we didn't have this resolved," she said.

But instead, the case was wrapped up a few weeks ago.

"Basically the determination from the judge was that the seawall was holding up the parking lot and roadway structure and granted the easement to the city so now we maintain, repair, and maintain that seawall," she said.

The city is now in the process of finding a company to do the repair work and the mayor says she plans to make sure this doesn't happen again with other seawalls in the city.

"You make sure you have good, sound legal advice that's documented and you make sure that the deeds and the backup record is included and it's a simple fix," she said.

FOX 4 also reached out to the private groups named in that suit for comment, but we did not hear back from them in time for our broadcast.