By next summer, the town of Longboat Key will likely have removed sand from a borrow site miles out in the Gulf where a natural-gas pipeline is being placed.
Last month, Town Manager Dave Bullock announced that he has signed the offshore lease with the U.S. Department of the Interior (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) for access to the sand that lies under the Port Dolphin LLC natural-gas pipeline project on the floor of the Gulf.
“The town has been working on this lease for some time,” Bullock wrote. “This lease secures our access to this sand.”
Public Works Director Juan Florensa said the town has until June 2013 to take approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sand for use for a future beach project. It’s expected, though, that Port Dolphin could ask for another year extension for its project, which would give the town another year to take sand out of the area.
The plan is to remove some of it and place it in high-erosion areas around the Key, except for the north end, which will receive sand later when the town builds three sand-saving structures to hold sand in the area. Those areas include the beach near Gulfside Road, The Islander Club and Seaplace (see map). The town has a permit to place sand on the entire beach and could add sand to other areas where it deems necessary.
“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 the next few years.
Sand, meanwhile, can’t arrive soon enough for the north end; three groins will be installed there, most likely next fall.
On the north end, two tropical storms this summer 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 and some beach width.
The town is currently in the process of obtaining permits for three north-end groins that would offer a long-term solution, according to the Longboat Pass Management Plan. The sand-structure project will cost the town $6.2 million, and the town might be able to take more sand from the Port Dolphin sand site for that project.
Commissioners have signed off on the project that Bullock recommends, which calls for 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.
After the structures are in place, sand from Longboat Pass will still need to be placed on the north end every four to eight years.
Red – Sand to be placed in summer 2013
Blue – Sand to be placed in October 2013
View Longboat Key Sand Placement in a larger map