The idea of creating five new islands in Naples Bay has been discussed since 2008 and proponents argue these islands would provide a dwelling place for wading birds, mangroves and seagrasses. The Naples City Council is still waiting to hear if they will be able to proceed and is set to vote Wednesday on whether or not to spend an additional $45,000 for a federal environmental permit. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing opposition due to their recent findings. In a June 2014 letter to city engineers, federal permit reviewers said this process will harm fish habitat and that less damaging alternatives are available to improve habitat on Naples Bay.
In 2013, the city sought a permit to dredge the canals in Port Royal and use the muck from the bottom of the canals to build the island. At first, engineers thought the dredging to build the islands would save money but instead it boosted the cost of dredging more than $400,000 above the $2 million assessment charged to Port Royal property owners. Council voted to drop the island from permits. Rather than wait for the project, though, city officials lobbied Gov. Rick Scott, a Naples resident, to allow the Naples project to go ahead anyway. The Department of Environmental Protection already has issued a permit for the island. City officials estimate the permit so far has cost the city about $50,000. During budget talks last year, the City Council set aside $250,000 to work on the islands.