Sand is officially coming to the north end of the island this summer.
Town Manager Dave Bullock signed a beach permit Thursday, Jan. 31 that allows the town to renourish its beach in three areas. The permit also allows the town to place sand on the Key for the next 10 years. Town staff is modifying the permit to allow sand to be placed Key-wide as needed for the duration of the permit.
“This is the last major hurdle to the upcoming beach project,” Bullock wrote in a Friday, Feb. 1, email to the Longboat Key Town Commission.
The beach project, expected to commence this summer, will place sand at the Broadway Beach Access to Gulfside Road, and from The Islander Club condominiums to the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. Although the permit also allows for sand to be placed at the severely eroded North Shore Road Beach Access north to Beer Can Island, Public Works Director Juan Florensa said the town would hold off in that area until structures are permitted and built to hold sand there.
The town placed a bid for the beach project last week to solicit contractors. Bullock said the town is investigating whether it can save money on costs if it works with Collier County and the city of Sanibel, which are also seeking to perform beach projects at the same time.
“This particular U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit and the lease with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management are the result of many months of work,” Bullock wrote. “Please join me in expressing our appreciation to Congressman Vern Buchanan for his assistance in both efforts.”
The permit allows the town to remove sand from a borrow site miles out in the Gulf where a natural-gas pipeline is being placed in the next couple of years.
The town will take approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sand for the beach project.
“The sand is a bit darker and coarser,” Florensa said. “That means it performs better and resists erosion.”
The project is estimated to cost the town $9 million, although it’s eligible for a $5 million reimbursement from Port Dolphin LLC if it moves forward with its pipeline project as anticipated.
In summer 2012, two tropical storms wiped out a $4.5 million sand project that was performed last year and took with it more than 150,000 cubic yards of sand.
As a long-term solution, commissioners have signed off on a project that Bullock recommends, which calls for the construction of two permeable, adjustable-type groins near North Shore Road on town property and a non-adjustable groin that would stick out into Longboat Pass on Manatee County property to keep sand from flowing north into the channel and into Sarasota Bay. Groin construction could begin as early as fall.
The town is currently obtaining permits for the three groins according to the Longboat Pass Management Plan. The sand-structure project will cost the town $6.2 million. The town might be able to procure more sand from the Port Dolphin sand site for that project.
Once the structures are in, sand from Longboat Pass will still need to be placed on the north end every four to eight years. During a 20-year period, sand placement will cost the town anywhere from $4 million to $7.5 million.
Longboat Key Beach Renourishment Project Description
The Science and Technology Journal of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management explains the town’s upcoming beach project as follows:
“Longboat Key is a well-developed barrier island on the central Gulf Coast of Florida with approximately 10 miles of shoreline. Located in Sarasota and Manatee counties, its beaches have been renourished several times since 1993 — and have significantly eroded since 2004. Additionally, Longboat Key beaches were impacted by three hurricanes in August and September 2008, when waves and elevated tides caused an accelerated erosion of the dry beach. Longboat Key is seeking to complete multiple beach renourishments. However, sand sources in south Florida are decreasing, and the search for ‘white sand’ with comparable grain size is moving farther from project areas. The purpose of the project is to provide beach nourishment for storm protection from the north end of Longboat Key in Manatee County to the south end in Sarasota County.”