Issues to watch 2014: Beach project

 

Issues to watch 2014: Beach project

 

Date: January 8, 2014
by: Kurt Schultheis | Managing Editor

 
 

Times, they are a changing. And that goes for the town’s beach-management plan and how Longboat Key’s coastline will be maintained moving forward.

Longboaters can circle Jan. 21 on their calendars to see how much that beach plan is going to change and if a beach project is happening in 2014. At the Longboat Key Town Commission’s 1 p.m. Jan. 21 workshop, commissioners are expected to review a report and hear recommendations on the future of the town’s beach plan and future beach projects.

Rising beach-project costs persuaded commissioners to nix a beach project that was slated for 2012.
In June 2012, Town Manager Dave Bullock received direction from his seven commissioners to cancel the summer beach project that came with a price tag 40% more than town staff expected. That project cost was $13,290,525.50.

Bullock explained that the demand to rebuild the Northeast’s coastline after Superstorm Sandy caused widespread damage in October 2011, 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 this coming year that could also use approximately $8 million in federal reimbursement dollars the town received last year from sand losses from Tropical Storm Debby.

Bullock will also bring to commissioners a multi-year strategy for commissioners for their review Jan. 21 that proposes the town be considered for federal money for future beach projects.

That strategy will come, in part, from a second opinion about its current Beach Management Plan, which hasn’t been updated since 2008.

The town paid Jacksonville-based Olsen Associates Inc. $121,800 to perform the assessment. Kevin Bodge of Olsen Associates is reviewing the town’s coastline and will make recommendations to the town later this month that include whether he believes the town needs a sand project at this time and how big that project should be if it needs to be performed.

A shoreline survey of the entire Key’s coastline, complete with digital aerial photos, has also been performed, and results show that much of the Key’s coastline doesn’t favor a beach project.

“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.”

The new study is the latest shift in the town’s beach project strategy.

Since the 1980s, the town has paid for its own beach projects through beach bonds approved through referendums to obtain the quality of sand it wants while not to waiting for federal dollars to fund beach projects.

Bullock noted that communities all around Longboat Key have access to federal dollars. Anna Maria Island is currently undergoing a beach project using federal dollars, and the city of Sarasota will use federal dollars for future Lido Beach projects.

Overview:
At the Longboat Key Town Commission’s 1 p.m. Jan. 21 workshop, commissioners are expected to review a report and hear recommendations on the future of the town’s beach plan and future beach projects moving forward.

Players: Town Manager Dave Bullock, Public Works Director Juan Florensa, Longboat Key taxpayers
Timeline: A revamped beach project could be proposed this year.


Contact Kurt Schultheis at kschultheis@yourobserver.com

 

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