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Longboat Key Tuesday, May 19, 2020 1 year ago

Town not planning to remove existing osprey-nest poles

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FPL is removing its power poles, but not the free-standing osprey-nest poles.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

As the town’s underground utility work progresses, poles will begin disappearing later this year. 

 But not the poles Longboat’s popular osprey families call home. 

   Nancy Curtis and her fellow Save Our Seabirds board members were curious about the fate of several of the poles amid the town’s plan to rid itself of poles carrying power and communications cables.

“I had written to Sherry Dominick, and then she sent my note to other people,” Curtis said. “I was very, very pleased with the responses I got.”

Dominick sent Curtis’ email to Town Manager Tom Harmer, who explained workers are not removing any of the existing nest poles in Longboat Key.

“I was concerned that with all of the work that will be going on and construction that osprey nests — which [are] often on adjacent areas to the metal poles there with the wiring — would not be touched,” Curtis said. “In fact, one of the other board members, Lisa Hartmann, was also very concerned about that, and that’s why I decided to write to make sure that those ospreys and their babies would be safe.”

Harmer said Florida Power and Light is removing its power poles but not the free-standing osprey-nest poles.

Longboat Key Public Works Projects Manager James Linkogle said osprey nests tend to pop up around this time of year throughout the town on several purpose-built poles and other fixtures.

“There’s one by our South Water Plant,” Linkogle said. “There’s one by Tangerine Bay. We have one in Quick Point Nature Preserve that hasn’t had a nest on it yet this year.”

Town staff said that the takedown of FPL poles and cables is expected to wrap up in the third quarter of this year along Gulf of Mexico Drive and the southern neighborhoods.

There are four phases of the project to take all overhead utility lines along Gulf of Mexico Drive and in the surrounding neighborhoods and placing them underground.

“We’ve always considered having two phases going at one time,” Linkogle said. “We actually do right now. There’s not a lot of work going in phase two right now.”

Phase one of the project began last summer at the southern end of the island. It extends north to include Country Club Shores and the Longboat Key Club, on Gulf of Mexico Drive. Linkogle estimated that crews were done with about 80% of the work on phase one, which is expected to be complete by late fall.

Phase two extends from the northern tip of the island to Dream Island Road. Work on this portion of the project is planned to finish by mid-2021.

Phase three goes from Country Club Shores to the county line.

Phase four goes from Dream Island Road south to the county line.

Linkogle also said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some delays with the project, but they are “not significant.” He said the pandemic has impacted the town’s schedule and that crews must practice safe social distancing when working on the project.

Linkogle said the plan is to have the undergrounding project done by the end of 2022.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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