Town Manager Bruce St. Denis hopes that the town of Longboat Key will receive approval from the state for a $5 million beach project that will restore the beach at the north end of the island this summer.
St. Denis presented the Town Commission with a funding plan for the project Wednesday, May 5 at a special budget workshop.
Town staff is working to obtain a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) this summer, which would allow the town to rebuild the entire beach profile, or a 200-foot wide beach that
has been swept away from Broadway to North Shore Road.
If approved, St. Denis said the project would buy the town a year’s worth of sand and time before the 2011-12 beach-renourishment project begins in November 2011. The project would also eliminate the need for offshore breakwaters.
“It looks like there is a higher chance now we will get a favorable biological opinion,” said St. Denis, who said the project could begin later this summer.
To fund the $5 million project, St. Denis said the town could use $1.5 million in Federal Emergency
Management Association (FEMA) reimbursements being paid to the town for sand losses associated with Hurricanes Fay, Gustav and Ike in 2007 and 2008; $1.6 million from the north-end, erosion-control-structure budget for breakwaters; $1.1 million remaining in The Islander groin budget; and $800,000 in the phase II infrastructure surtax program.
The Town Commission unanimously agreed to allow St. Denis to begin creating ordinances and resolutions to pay for the sand if the project is approved.
But Commissioner Lynn Larson urged the town manager and his staff to find a way to hold the $5 million sand on the beach, instead of implementing a one-year fix that will wash away.
Although St. Denis said that the Longboat Pass inlet-management study will allow town staff to discover what needs to be done to hold the sand, Larson said she doesn’t want to wait two years for the results, which could come too late.
Larson and Commissioner David Brenner asked St. Denis to talk with a beach engineer who makes $30,000 metal cubes with semi-permeable membranes that can hold the sand in the area.
“It might just help instead of putting $5 million worth of sand down just to see it wash away in a year,” Larson said.
St. Denis, however, warned that trying to permit such structures could jeopardize the permitting of the emergency beach project.
Some commissioners agree with Larson and Brenner that something needs to be done to hold the expensive sand there.
“I would rather not do anything this next year if we spend $5 million just to have it wash out to sea,” said Vice Mayor Jim Brown. “That’s just stupid.”
Commissioners and north-end residents Gene Jaleski and Robert Siekmann, however, warned that sand needs to be put down on the beach now because the Gulf is getting closer to structures and dune systems.
“I don’t like spending $5 million anymore than anybody else,” Jaleski said. “But we need a beach there to change the dynamics there.”
The town manager agreed to proceed with permitting the beach project, while looking into implementing structures that might hold the sand there.
The commission could approve ordinances and resolutions for funding the beach project at its 2 p.m. Thursday, May 20 regular workshop.
Contact Kurt Schulteis at email@example.com.
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