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Longboat Key Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009 8 years ago

County commissioner defends letter

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash defended his position to dispute the Longboat Key’s application for breakwaters on the north end of the island in a letter sent Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Wrote McClash: “As an individual county commissioner, I can and will act to represent in the best interest of the people of Manatee County. There is no doubt some have made a political issue out of the routine matter of a county commissioner writing on county stationary. However, elected officials have a right to represent their point of view on official stationery of the office they hold. As you can see by the letter I wrote, it is clear I identified myself as an individual commissioner.”

Earlier this month, McClash was removed as the county’s representative for the West Coast Inland Navigation District after the commission lashed out at McClash for using county commission letterhead to write a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In the original letter dated Oct. 1, which requested a public hearing to be held about the project, McClash expressed “serious concerns in using manmade geotextile tubes” for the breakwater project that the town hopes the state will approve to stave off massive erosion that led to the closing of the North Shore Road beach access in March.

But Town Manager Bruce St. Denis alerted the Manatee County Commission last week that McClash’s claims are unfounded and no geotextile tubes are being used for the project.

Town officials also claim McClash’s original letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could slow down their plans to receive approval for the breakwater project.

McClash said he still has concerns with the town’s plans to construct four breakwaters, which will act as rock islands 220-feet from shore to counteract wave energy that’s quickly eroding the beach in the area near Longboat Pass.

McClash now says he has a concern with the manmade geotextile fabric that will be laid underneath the breakwaters because it could create dangerous conditions for boaters and beachgoers.

McClash said he’s also worried the structures will “dramatically change the natural shoreline around Longboat Pass.”

McClash said his letter would not slow down the town’s beach-renourishment process, calling those who claim his letter will hold up the town’s project “irresponsible.”

“Let me set the record straight, this should not hold up the sand renourishment permit the town has requested,” McClash wrote.

However, Public Works Director Juan Florensa has said that McClash’s original letter could slow down the breakwater project, which the town needs to hold any future sand that is placed on the north end of the Key.

"Putting sand on the north end without any measure to slow the erosion there will be futile," Florensa said.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].


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