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Soggy Longbeach Village looks for drainage solutions

Village infrastructure bears scars from buckling under too much water pressure.

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  • | 7:00 a.m. December 14, 2016
  • Longboat Key
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Terri and Mark Fishman have been renting a home in the 600 block of Linley Street in Longbeach Village, a block west of Sarasota Bay, the past two years while building a new home.

Street flooding is a problem, especially during a heavy storm.

“Water has come up to the steps, but it didn’t come into the house,” said Terri Fishman.

It could soon unless something is done, town officials say.

Commissioner Ed Zunz, who lives in Longbeach Village, said he has been stranded indoors when roads flood, since driving in 6 inches of saltwater can mean the end of a vehicle.

“This is a very serious problem,” said Zunz. “It needs to be dealt with. You have an entire village at risk.”

To that end, the town paid $35,940 to Venice-based DMK Associates Inc. to evaluate the stormwater system in the Village and suggest solutions.

Kreg Maheu, DMK’s vice president of engineering, said Monday at a Longboat Key Town Commission workshop that new seawalls, stormwater valves or pumping systems are among the solutions. Lift stations already have been in use on Longboat for more than 50 years and would be most effective, he said.

Maheu’s analysis concluded:

• Seawalls are too costly and don’t eliminate flooding from everyday rainfall.

• Simply raising roadways shifts the flooding into residential yards, which isn’t a solution.

• The most feasible option is to add pump stations and Tideflex valves, or a similar product.

“That would help with rainfall and sunny day events in all areas,” Maheu said.

Still, flooding issues have been more visible this year as Tropical Storm Colin and Hurricane Hermine battered the barrier island with heavy rain.

Infrastructure bears visible scars from buckling under too much water pressure. A chunk of road has been washed out near Bayside Drive and Russell Street just west of Sarasota Bay.

Higher tides are causing more road and yard flooding in the historic Longboat neighborhood on the north end of the island.

Longbeach Village is the lowest point on the Key at 3 feet above sea level, so it absorbs the brunt of flooding on the island, Town Manager David Bullock said.

“When we get king tides, we get 4 to 6 inches of saltwater during ‘sunny day’ flooding,” said Public Works Director Juan Florensa.

Florensa said no money has been budgeted to solve the problem, but the Town Commission asked for the Town Manager Dave Bullock to return with possible cost estimates.

The town has scheduled a 6 p.m. Jan. 18 meeting at the Art Center to discuss the issues.

Bullock said options would be reviewed and a cost-benefit analysis conducted by town staff and brought forward once completed.

Bullock said something must be done now. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials predict sea levels will rise 1.6 feet within the next 80 years.

“Eighty years for us is a very reasonable planning horizon,” he said. “We should be addressing the issue right now because it doesn’t happen all at once. It creeps up on you with more and more street and house flooding.”


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