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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2010 7 years ago

Town commission chooses white sand

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Longboat Key Town Commission chose the most expensive option for its next beach-renourishment project because it believes that’s what taxpayers want.

At its Thursday, March 25 regular workshop, commissioners reached consensus to use white sand Key-wide. And, instead of using a dark, coarse gray sand as a layer underneath the white sand for the beach’s three high-erosion areas, commissioners selected a sand that’s only slightly darker than the white top layer to be used in areas such as the eroded North Shore Road beach access.

The commission believes if the whitest layer is swept away, the sand underneath will not be as dark as the current dual-layer sand project with which many residents were upset.

Said Commissioner Bob Siekmann: “I want to get back to as close as we once were. I think the white sand is what people want, and I think the voters made it clear they want that kind of sand to enhance tourism.”
Commissioner Gene Jaleski agreed.

“I think the taxpayers would be very unhappy with us if we chose a darker sand again,” Jaleski said.
And Mayor George Spoll suggested the engineer bring back a cost for a beach that could mix the two layers of white sand together after learning it would hold a beach better than the dual-layer beach.

But costs for the mixed beach are expected to be high.

The town manager will present more accurate costs for the sand option selected, which is expected to cost about $50 million, to the commission at its 7 p.m. Monday, April 5 regular meeting.

The town’s last beach-renourishment project in 2005-06 cost $21 million and included a dual-layer beach of white sand and larger grain gray sand in some areas of the beach.

The most expensive sand option, which the commission chose, is a fine white sand that’s 0.18 millimeters, followed by a medium-grain sand that’s less white and 0.25 millimeters in size for use in high-erosion areas.

St. Denis explained in a memo to the commission that a referendum question for the beach project’s funding will occur next March, with the project beginning in November 2011.

St. Denis says the commission could also approve a different kind of question for next year’s ballot, which would ask voters directly if they prefer a more expensive project for sand that is whiter and finer.

If that question failed, St. Denis said voters could also vote on a lower-cost sand-project option.

Commissioner Hal Lenobel and his fellow commissioners liked the suggestion.

“The voters should have a say and let us know if they want to pay for this,” Lenobel said.

Contact Kurt Schulteis at [email protected].

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