Town Manager Dave Bullock announced last week that sand is coming to the eroded north end of the Key earlier than expected.
In an April 24 email to the Longboat Key Town Commission, Bullock explained he met with West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND) officials and learned a sand project will begin in weeks instead of months.
At the April 23 WCIND board meeting in Venice, the board approved a motion to expedite the project at the request of the town. The motion passed unanimously.
“The project is moving along quickly with the contractor ready to begin mobilization in the coming weeks once final notice to proceed is issued,” Bullock wrote. “Based on the schedule discussed, I expect equipment placement to begin within two weeks, followed quickly by dredging and sand placement.”
The project is expected to take approximately two months to complete, depending on the weather.
Public Works Director Juan Florensa expects equipment to be placed at the Broadway beach access in the first or second week of May (see sidebar).
WCIND is dredging an area of the boat channel, trapping 88,000 cubic yards of sand from northwest of Jewfish Key. WCIND agreed to contribute $500,000 toward the project, with the town making up the remaining cost.
WCIND will dredge the area to install flood shoal sand traps there. The traps, once installed, will trap sand that is swept off the north end of the Key and deposited in a large sandbar near Jewfish Key.
The town will get 100% of the sand dredged for its shores, with Manatee County receiving 100% of the sand the next time the site is dredged. Future projects will receive a 50/50 split between the county and town.
Sand will be placed south of the severely eroded beach near Longbeach condominiums to just north of North Shore Road.
Bullock told the commission he is optimistic that some sand will still be in place in 2015, when construction of two groins will begin, barring major storms this summer.
“As you know, the beach has eroded dangerously close to buildings in the area of north Longboat Key,” Bullock wrote. “Expediting this project is of high importance as we enter storm season and the schedule will allow placement of sand in these areas before late summer, which is the most active storm time for us.”
Public Works Project Manager James Linkogle will oversee the town side of the project, coordinating with Longboat Key Police and Fire Rescue crews, because the project will cause some hazards for boaters.
The commission is poised to sign an agreement for the cost-sharing sand project at its May 5 regular meeting.
Vice Mayor Jack Duncan thanked Bullock and his staff for working to bring sand to the north end before hurricane season in an April 24 email.
“I’m sure this news will bring a real sense of relief to our north end residents,” Duncan said. “I know you and staff have worked around the clock to expedite this process and for that, and I hope I speak for our north end residents, you have my praise and thanks.”
Florensa, though, urged residents to realize the sand is nothing more than a stop-gap measure until groins can be installed the following summer to hold sand in the area.
“This sand won’t be staying on the shore for long,” Florensa said. “But it’s an emergency protection measure that’s needed for north end residents.”
Public Works Director Juan Florensa said he expects a contractor to begin placing sand dredging equipment at the Broadway beach access during the first or second week in May.
During that time, there will be limited beach access at Broadway and potentially no beach access there for a short period of time.
Large trucks will then piece together a large pipe that will be used to suck sand from a dredge in Sarasota Bay to the north end of the Key.
The North Shore Road beach access will be closed during the sand project, which will be completed in July.
Florensa said there will be no sand pumping at night so north end residents aren’t disturbed.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]