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Town plans emergency beach project

Longboat Key aims to place as much as 40,000 cubic yards of sand at the south end of the island this summer.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. May 11, 2016
  • Longboat Key
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Longboat Key Public Works Director Juan Florensa has been meeting with Resort at Longboat Key Club representatives weekly for the last four months to discuss a topic familiar to him: the erosion that’s swept swaths of the south-end beach away.

As the town undertakes three renourishment projects worth more than $16 million combined and encompassing 700,000 cubic yards of sand, a channel has formed along the south-end beach that is contributing to large losses near the resort — a stretch of beach that isn’t included in the three beach projects.

But Florensa is hopeful the town will be able to place as much as 40,000 cubic yards of sand on the threatened shoreline by the end of the summer, although there are logistical challenges involved with any emergency sand project.

The town has about $1.5 million available for such an undertaking, which would include a truck haul of sand from a mine in Immokalee.

There’s a similar renourishment underway mid-Key, where the town is in the process of dumping 200,000 cubic yards of the sand from the same midstate mine.

“It’s very challenging to get trucks onto that beach,” said Florensa. “We were lucky when we we’re doing it there by the Colony because there’s a lot of room, and there are no guests.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner Irwin Pastor, who also serves as president of the L’Ambiance Condominium Association, has watched nature wreak havoc on the shores in front of his building, located near the resort. 

Earlier this year, Pastor said there was almost no beach left on which to walk. Since then, the sand has shifted to create a bit of new shoreline, while the beach behind the resort has thinned.

“We do have a beach now — a very, very short beach,” Pastor said. “It’s not nearly as critical as it was about two months ago.”

Still, Pastor hopes Key Club representatives and the town can work out a way to truck new sand onto the south end.

“Renourishment of our beaches is vital to the economics and ambiance of our Key,” said The Resort at Longboat Key Club General Manager Jeff Mayers in a statement. “We are pleased to be working closely with the town to implement the program and have confidence it will be completed in a timely fashion.”

Florensa also faces a timing issue that affects the emergency beach project on the south end. He worries that if sand were trucked onto the beach right now before filling the channel with sand, any newly placed sand would be swept away from the beach.

So the town will wait until a contractor completes the roughly $3 million dredging of New Pass, which will send 250,000 cubic yards of new sand to the beach in front of L’Ambiance north to Regent Place. 

Although a bid protest has threatened to delay that plan, Florensa is confident contractors will be able to begin hauling by the end of July.

“The first thing I need to do is plug that (channel), that way the sand will stay much longer,” Florensa said. “Then we will start right away — and I mean right after — and do the truck haul.”