Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash believes Mother Nature should continue to allow Longboat Pass to migrate closer to Longboat Key.
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis thinks that’s a bad idea.
Allowing the channel to drift closer to the north end, St. Denis believes, could have damaging erosion effects in an area that already needs a $4 million interim beach project to be performed this month, just to restore the lack of sand in the area.
At a joint meeting with the Longboat Key Town Commission and the Manatee County Commission Tuesday, Nov. 30, in Bradenton, officials reviewed the history of the pass and what needs to be done to hold sand in the future.
“There’s not a navigational issue in that pass,” said McClash, who believes dredging the authorized waterway channel could cause other problems. “Dredging the original channel might not last, and I’m concerned about proposed ideas for hardened structures like breakwaters. We need to explore all of our options.”
St. Denis, however, said the town is exploring all of its options before placing any structures on the north end of the Key.
But St. Denis also made it clear he has issues with the pass as it sits today.
“In order to save $1 million on a dredging of the original pass location and leaving it where it sits today, the town of Longboat Key might need to spend $6 million to $9 million to address further erosion issues,”
St. Denis said. “Each group has to consider the potential negative impacts to everyone else.”
The town’s beach engineer, Coastal, Planning & Engineering, made a presentation about what kind of structures may or may not be useful in holding sand on the north end of Longboat Key.
And the West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND) also presented a historical presentation of the pass that was funded jointly by WCIND and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 2008.
Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Natural Resources Department, told those in attendance that the county and town of Longboat Key will work closely together and wait for a $125,000 Longboat Pass Inlet Management Study to be completed before deciding what to do.
“It’s not always as simple as saying let Mother Nature take its course,” Hunsicker said. “The town, the county, WCIND and state and federal agencies will work to keep our beaches strong and protect our property, using the best available information.”
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].