Time’s they are a changing — at least when it comes to the town’s beach management plan.
In a July 19 email to the Longboat Key Town Commission, Town Manager Dave Bullock announced the town will get a second opinion about its current Beach Management Plan, which hasn’t been updated since 2008.
The town is paying Jacksonville-based Olsen Associates Inc. $121,800 to perform the assessment. During the next six months, Kevin Bodge, of Olsen Associates, will review the town’s coastline and make recommendations that include whether he believes the town needs a sand project at this time and, if so, how big that project should be.
Major tasks for the company’s assessment include:
• Evaluating in detail the previously proposed and advertised beach project to determine if it is warranted or feasible, and/or not advisable in the 2014 timeframe;
• Evaluating a broader-scale renourishment to determine need for other sand-placement locations;
• Providing recommendations for short- and long-term project strategies for renourishment of the town’s beaches, using offshore, inlet and/or upland sand sources;
• If warranted, formulating a design/development-level plan intended to be prepared and advertised for beach project bids in 2014.
A shoreline survey of the entire Key’s coastline, complete with digital aerial photos, will also be performed in the next 30 days.
“Much of the current analysis and data gathering would directly support an update to the town’s Beach Management Plan,” Bullock wrote to commissioners.
Public Works Director Juan Florensa said it makes sense for the town “to get another fresh set of eyes looking at its beach plan.”
“We have some questions we want answered,” Florensa said.
Those questions, Florensa said, include:
• Does the town need a sand project in 2014?
• How big or small should that project be if sand needs to be placed in certain areas of the Key?
• How does the town’s coastline look and where does that coastline need sand?
The new study is the latest shift in the town’s beach-project strategy.
At the Town Commission’s June 17 workshop, Bullock received direction from his seven commissioners to nix a summer beach project that was 40% more than town staff expected. That project came with a price tag of $13,290,525.50.
Bullock explained that the demand to rebuild the Northeast’s coastline from Superstorm Sandy’s destruction in October, among other variables, led to the lack of bids and the one overpriced bid.
Commissioners agreed with Bullock’s plan to possibly re-bid a beach project next year that could also use approximately $8 million in federal reimbursement dollars the town received in May from sand losses from Tropical Storm Debby.
Bullock also reported in June he plans to bring back a multiyear strategy for commissioners within the next year that proposes the town be considered for federal money for future beach projects.
The proposal, which commissioners are open to, is a dramatic shift in the town’s beach policy.
Since the 1980s, the town has paid for its own beach projects through beach bonds approved through referendums to get the quality of sand it wants without having to wait for federal dollars to come through for beach projects.
Bullock noted that communities all around Longboat Key have access to federal dollars. Anna Maria Island is receiving sand this summer from federal dollars, and the city of Sarasota will use federal money for future Lido Beach projects.