Manatee County officials announced Tuesday, June 23 that they are in negotiations with a natural-gas pipeline company, Port Dolphin LLC, to extract sand from a controversial pipeline route before the pipe is placed on the bottom of the Gulf.
In a press release issued late Tuesday, the county announced it will work with the town of Longboat Key and the Department of Environmental Protection to extract coveted white sand from a revised pipeline two miles north of Anna Maria Island.
But Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said he was not made aware of the negotiations going on with the county, Port Dolphin and the state.
St. Denis declined to comment until he heard more about the negotiations.
Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County’s director of conservation lands management, told The Longboat Observer that the county and the town could commence sand extraction along the pipeline route by 2011 and that placement of the sand could be put on Anna Maria and Longboat Key beaches three years ahead of both the town and the county’s beach-renourishment schedules.
Hunsicker said DEP is willing to speed up the lengthy permitting and state-funding processes for beach-renourishment projects in order to acquire the sand.
Port Dolphin, Hunsicker said, is expected to share in the cost for studies, permits and construction of the renourishment project.
“It’s not intended to be a surprise for Longboat officials,” Hunsicker said about the announcement. “It’s intended as a proposal for a potential solution that would protect our beach-quality sand while bringing coveted natural gas to the area.”
Hunsicker aims to present a formal agreement to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday, July 28.
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