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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 7 years ago

Draft permit for beach project issued

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

A beach-restoration project for the severely eroded north end of Longboat Key is all but guaranteed.

On Wednesday, Aug. 18, Public Works Director Juan Florensa said the town received its “intent to issue a permit” from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

“What we have now is a draft permit,” Florensa said. “It’s one of the last steps needed to secure the permit.”

Town staff has been working to receive a permit from FDEP all year, which would allow the town to rebuild the entire beach profile — 200 feet of beach that has been swept away from Broadway to North Shore Road.

The town now must advertise the state’s intent to issue the permit for 30 days before the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially issues the permit within 30 days after the advertisement period.

Florensa is hopeful the town can get the permit by the end of September and put a bid out to solicit contractors this fall.

“In an ideal world, we could start the beach project in January,” Florensa said.

The town has put aside $4.5 million in its upcoming 2010-11 fiscal year budget for the project, which is expected to take at least one month to complete.

According to the intent-to-issue permit, the project involves renourishing a 4,015-foot beach segment by using town-permitted fine white sand site located approximately two miles off of the northern end of Anna Maria Island.

The permit states: “Since the construction of the Longboat Key beach project in 2005 and 2006, the October 2009 monitoring survey indicates the shoreline in this area has receded 17.3 feet relative to the pre-construction shoreline. It also indicates that of the measured 56,000 cubic yards of fill volume placed, only 8,000 cubic yards still remains. Although the entire Manatee County Gulf of Mexico shoreline is designated critically eroded, erosion in this segment of the beach has been especially severe. The proposed fill placement is a temporary measure to restore and protect the beach. The fill placement is expected to last two years. To reduce the erosion in this area, a Longboat Key north-end breakwater project has been proposed and is currently under review. Additionally, there is a pending application for the renourishment of the entire Longboat Key shoreline.”

Town Manager Bruce St. Denis is happy to get some relief for the north end before the island-wide beach renourishment project begins in November 2011.

“I’m very pleased we have been able to put something together,” said St. Denis, who explained that town staff worked with the state to get a permit in six months instead of the normal two years.

Despite the good news, the town, however, still has some issues to combat.

Hopper dredges, which work to pick up the sand on the bottom of the Gulf and send it to shore via a pipeline, are in high demand.

Currently, most of the available dredges are creating sand berms in Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle beaches to protect the shores from floating oil.

Making matters worse, the town will most likely be starting the project when most other coastal communities are also planning beach projects — after sea-turtle nesting season ends.

“Dredges could potentially be committed,” said St. Denis, who is concerned high demand will mean higher prices.

And Florensa warns the beach restoration is only a quick fix until a more permanent solution, such as breakwaters, can work to deflect wave energy and hold the sand onshore.

“This project, without breakwaters or a another method to hold the sand, will last 18 months at best,” Florensa said. “If we have an active summer next year, it (the new sand) could be already gone.”

Although the permitting process for four breakwaters continues, the money set aside for the potential structures is now being committed to the north-end beach project.

St. Denis recommends using the $1.6 million in breakwater project money, the $1.1 million remainder in the Islander groin budget, $800,000 in the phase II infrastructure surtax program and $1.5 million in FEMA reimbursement monies to fund the north-end beach restoration project.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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