The town of Longboat Key is exploring several options to temporarily replace the beach that disappeared this year near the North Shore Road beach access.
Public Works Director Juan Florensa said he expects to hear next week whether the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) will approve a permit to take 600 cubic yards of coarse, white sand near the Venice shore for placement near the beach access.
The North Shore Road beach access was closed in March because the lack of a beach there created dangerous conditions for beachgoers.
FDEP, Florensa said, expedites permits for high-erosion areas when 600 cubic yards of sand or less is used for beach placement.
“Anything that we can do to place dry sand to create a beach that protects North Shore Road and the surrounding area is a positive thing,” said Florensa, who admits that town and beach consultant officials are not sure how long the sand would hold.
The goal, Florensa said, is to renourish the hot-spot area until a major renourishment is performed and a permit is approved for offshore breakwaters that will help stop the sand from eroding so quickly.
Florensa called the upland sand source near Venice “very promising,” explaining that the town can use dump trucks to bring the sand to Longboat Key.
The cost of the potential project is unknown at this time.
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said the Venice sand is a larger grain that could last longer on the beach but could prove to be an expensive interim project.
“It’s cheaper in the long run to get sand from a shoal or a borrowed sand-site area in large volume and bring it to the beach by barge,” St. Denis said. “But a situation exists on the north end that needs attention.”
Meanwhile, the town may have another source for sand that can be used for other areas of the town’s beach.
West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND) Executive Director Chuck Listkowski attended a Washington, D.C.,-based Army Corps of Engineers meeting last week, urging officials to consider funding a project that combines the maintenance dredging of Longboat Pass and a plan to dredge 30,000 cubic yards of beach-quality sand east of Jewfish Key.
Both maintenance projects will clear the waterways for safer boat traffic in that area, while dredging potential beach-quality sand for Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.
Listkowski has stated in the past that his district’s emergency dredging off Jewfish Key is in limbo because the Army Corps of Engineers is trying to get a permit to do the work for which WCIND already has a permit.
In April, a frustrated Listkowski told a group of barrier-island officials that there is no government mechanism in place that allows the Army Corps of Engineers to use WCIND’s permit.
But if the Army Corps of Engineers accepts Listkowski’s proposal to use WCIND’s permits and funds to move forward with emergency dredging in November 2009, the sand could be available for use on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, which usually share sand that’s dredged from the area.
Listkowski estimated earlier this year that dredging near Jewfish Key would cost approximately $265,000 if WCIND performed the work.
And, if WCIND has trouble obtaining permits to place the sand on Anna Maria Island’s Coquina Beach for eventual distribution, Manatee County Community Services Director Fred Loveland suggests the sand could be placed on the north end of Longboat Key for the town’s use.
Florensa, however, said the town does not have a permit to place such large amounts of sand on its beach.
Now, it’s up to town officials to decide if the sand close to home is white and coarse enough to meet the needs for high-erosion areas of its beach.
While Florensa said preliminary sand samples the town received from sand taken east of Jewfish Key is not coarse enough, he is not ruling the sand out for placement on non high-erosion areas of the beach.
St. Denis said the town would make sure all the sand that might become available is worth the cost.
“If the sand is too fine, it will wash away quickly,” St. Denis said. “The sand will hold a beach longer if it’s more comparable to what was placed there in the first place.”
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