Under an Act of Congress enacted in 1927, the federal government agreed to take over the privately-owned, old Florida East Coast Canal, substantially enlarge its width and depth, and perpetually maintain it, upon condition that the State of Florida buy the tollway from Palm Beach County developer Harry S. Kelsey, acquire all necessary rights- of-way or maintenance spoil areas (MSAs) for the deposit of all spoil areas needed by the Army Corps of Engineers, and identify a “local sponsor” to perform the State’s obligations.
Over the decades, natural mangrove plant islands built up within the boundaries of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). These should be distinguished from artificially constructed MSAs and identified by legal description in the public records of each county. In the case of MSA 684A, this maintenance spoil area is the northern forty feet of what is popularly (but incorrectly) known known as the Deerfield Island Park, maintained and within the north forty feet of what was popularly known as the the “Capone tract” or, much later, “Capone Island”.
It acquired the name largely because the notorious gangster Al Capone’s lawyer, Vincent Giblin, purchased the fifty-acre property, then a peninsula in 1929 “as trustee” for an unidentified beneficiary or beneficiaries before Capone went to prison for income tax evasion. The property became an island when Arthur Vining Davis (Arvida) bought the property and dredged the Royal Palm Canal between the ICW and the Hillsboro Canal in the early 1960s. The north forty feet of the Deerfield Island property lies within Palm Beach County and acts as a buffer between Broward County’s Deerfield Island Park and the posh Arvida development known as the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County.
Upon acquisition of the old private Waterway from Kelsey for $725,000, turnover of the waterway to the federal government, and the formation of FIND in 1929, the old waterway became the Florida link in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, free of the burden of tolls and under the control of the federal government. Florida was the only state along the Atlantic seaboard required by Congress to purchase a waterway within its boundaries for turnover and enlargement by the federal government. The federal government used federal tax dollars to buy the inland waterways in the other states for the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.