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Longboat Key Monday, Jun. 17, 2019 5 months ago

Beach management plan continues forward in Longboat Key

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The Town Commission and interested parties took in a presentation on what will be a completed plan in October.
by: Sten Spinella Staff Writer

Longboat Key is looking to draw a line in the sand with new beach nourishment efforts.

The quality of that sand, the scope of the projects and the costs have yet to be decided. But Al Browder of Olsen Associates Inc., a coastal engineering company, the project manager for the Town’s beach management plan, offered an overview of that plan to the Town Commission Monday afternoon.

Browder’s presentation is part of the process to complete the report by October. Town Manager Tom Harmer said Browder's appearance on Monday was meant as a precursor to the October meeting.

“It’ll be up to the Commission to decide what they want to do with the actual plan,” Browder said.

In October, the updated beach management plan will be completed for and presented to the Town Commission ahead of an anticipated spring referendum to approve funding. 

“The intent would be to go back out to the public in March of 2020 … so the commission would need to approve language for the ballot in December,” Harmer said. “This agenda item has been scheduled so that the Public Works staff could talk about what’s involved in the beach management plan.”

The favored choice of town leaders at the moment – and the beginnings of which are accounted for in the town’s working budget – is Option 3, a “hybrid” plan, combining elements of the other two options, that will total $42 million over six years. Option 1, “The Full Project” is the most expensive ($52 million total), while Option 2, the “Steady State” is the least expensive ($32 million total). 

Option 3 involves a continuation of the Canal 1A Dredge ($750,000), the implementation of five permeable groins on the north end ($10 million), using designated sand sources for sand fill ($25 million), an Army Corps of Engineers beach protection study ($1.5 million), New Pass groin tightening ($1.45 million) and sand search, design, consulting and monitoring protected species ($4.5 million).

Browder acknowledged environmental factors with regulatory restrictions such as seagrass, reefs, sea turtle nesting and shorebird nesting. Most of the presentation, though, focused in on the sand fill component of each option.

“If we don’t have an adequate supply of sand, or the sand is not of a sufficient quality, it’s all for waste," Browder said. "So we have to work very hard managing the sand resources we have."

Longboat Key has a design width they’re attempting to maintain along the shoreline, “and that’s generally defined as 120-foot beach width,” Browder said.

Gulfside Road and the north end are areas of particular erosional concern. Browder also highlighted areas of the beach that are stable or even accretional, meaning they’ve grown over a number of years.

So where can the town get the sand?

  • Inlet channel sources: These sources are the least expensive (about $15 a cubic yard), but the sand quality is limited – as is amount of sand that can be taken.
  • Offshore sources: The sand quality can vary. The price jumps to about $40 a cubic yard, and the sand can have differences in color and shell content.
  • Truck-haul sources: This is the most expensive option, and it renders the most high-quality sand. This option, if done exclusively (so for all 1,000,000 cubic yards), would require more than 60,000 trucks passing in and out of Longboat Key. For 400,000 cubic yards, the estimate was 26,000 trucks.

Commissioner Mike Haycock asked for the presentation in October to help in understanding how beaches to the north and south of Longboat Key are handling this issue. 

Sten Spinella is a Town Hall Reporter for the Longboat Observer. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and his master's degree from the University of Missouri. 

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