“A joke.” “A waste of money.” “A waste of time.” “Full of hooey.”
Mayor George Spoll and Commissioner Phillip Younger used these terms to describe the $16,000 oil-spill cleanup plan the town paid beach engineer Coastal Planning & Engineering to create.
At the Monday, July 12 regular commission meeting, Spoll spent more than 40 minutes debating with Town Manager Bruce St. Denis about whether the 35-page, oil-cleanup plan should be paid for, let alone implemented.
The commission doesn’t believe the plan protects the whole island, especially the bayside portion.
Spoll and Younger, both Bay Isles residents, expressed frustration and concern that a boom would only be placed in the main channel in Sarasota Bay, which is used by both Bay Isles residents and Longboat Key Club Moorings Marina.
“What’s the point of closing the entrance to the Moorings when there are gaps all down the roads from the mangroves?” Spoll asked. “What’s proposed is a joke for Bay Isles, and I question the confidence of this whole design.”
Younger agreed and said that similar issues in the plan also exist in Country Club Shores, where he used to live.
St. Denis attempted to assuage concerns by explaining that the bulk of the plan calls for stopping oil from entering Sarasota Bay through a vigorous alternative boom defense in both Longboat Pass and New Pass.
But Spoll suggested the town shouldn’t have asked CP&E to draw a plan for work that goes any further than the passes if that’s the case.
Again, Younger agreed.
“Why don’t we just take the dollars we spent and throw them in the bay and hope they will soak the oil up?” Younger asked.
St. Denis told the commission the possibility that oil would get into Sarasota Bay is remote, although commissioners expressed concern that Manatee County has no plan in place to protect the north end of Anna Maria Island and keep oil from entering the bay and flowing south toward Longboat.
Every commissioner but Younger gave St. Denis direction to present the plan as submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard, while working with CP&E to obtain answers to the commission’s concerns.
St. Denis told the commission town staff will hold off on paying the $16,000 for the plan until the commission’s questions are answered. The town is also planning to submit a claim to British Petroleum for the cost of the study and staff time needed to help produce it.
Noting that the local oil plan is the first of its kind being presented by any municipality in both Manatee and Sarasota counties, St. Denis told The Longboat Observer that regardless of the comments made, the plan as a whole shows the town wants to be more aggressive toward the oil spill.
“We have done a good job of protecting all of our resources in the unlikely event that oil in some form comes ashore,” St. Denis said.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].