- January 19, 2022
Longboat Key residents are familiar with the neighborhoods prone to flooding. Among those at the top of the list: Longbeach Village, Sleepy Lagoon and Buttonwood Harbour.
On Jan. 18, the town distributed purchase orders to planning and design consulting firm Kimley-Horn to conduct stormwater drainage assessments for both the Sleepy Lagoon and the Buttonwood Harbour neighborhoods. The work is designed to gather data on how and why flooding occurs, to help engineers devise solutions.
The town is due to pay $90,016 for the eight-month Sleepy Lagoon assessment and $78,733 for the six-month Buttonwood Harbour assessment.
Tom Tucker is among the Buttonwood Harbour residents who have expressed their concerns about the neighborhood’s infrastructure, specifically during heavy rains and high tides. The Buttonwood Harbour neighborhood was developed in the 1960s.
Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said Sleepy Lagoon has more roadways and areas to evaluate, which is why the neighborhood’s assessment is longer and more costly than Buttonwood Harbour’s.
“We’re going to have one of our engineers review the areas, the elevations, the issues that are being described, provide recommendations for the town to react on whether it’s simple maintenance issues or water capital improvement projects,” Brownman said. “We’re going to plan for the program to fund to be able to correct some of the inefficiencies in each area.”
Brownman said it was appropriate for the town to conduct studies on the Longbeach Village neighborhood, Sleepy Lagoon and Buttonwood Harbour, which are the three lowest areas of Longboat Key. He said the Village has already had two studies done.
Sleepy Lagoon is in Manatee County. It consists of Juan Anasco Drive, De Narvaez Drive, Bayview Drive, Norton Street, Marbury Lane, Penfield Street, General Harris Street and Wake Island Road. Also, there are plans in design and permitting for improvements to Lyons Lane.
“We’re doing some road work and efforts on Lyons Lane, but those are more targeted short term, like over the past couple of years to the next couple years, and then the sea-level rise (study) will give us a path forward on the longer-term issue, but we see them complimenting each other,” Town Manager Tom Harmer said.
Buttonwood Harbour is in Sarasota County. It consists of the area between Triton Bend and Monroe Street.
Tucker said he was pleased with the comprehensiveness of the town’s plan to assess the drainage issues.
“Isaac kept his word and he told me it would happen this way,” Tucker said.
Brownman described the kind of data Kimley-Horn would collect and how it would help town leaders determine the best course of action.
“A lot of the data they’ve already collected already,” Brownman said. “They’ve taken some of our APTIM (Environmental and Infrastructure Inc.) sea-level rise data for inlets and outfall elevations.”
Brownman said Kimley-Horn representatives will also use Southwest Florida Water Management District’s LiDar contour mapping elevation data, survey data and data for planned developments in the area.
The proposed developments include Brista Homes Founder and President Mark Ursini’s proposal to build two single-family homes at 597 Buttonwood Drive. Longboat Key voters approved a residential density referendum in November 2021 for the site.
The Town Commission will have ultimate authority on Ursini’s proposal to build the two homes, but the P&Z Board will also make a recommendation.
“I’ve been in constant communication with Buttonwood Harbour Association, their representatives, and keeping them in the loop on our preliminary designs,” Ursini said. “I think we’re addressing the major concerns of the overall drainage on both Winslow (Place) and Buttonwood Drive.”
Ursini also seeks to develop 3150 Gulf of Mexico Drive into a 14,408-square-foot commercial plaza for up to eight tenants. The P&Z Board is due to have final approval on the proposed commercial development’s site plan.
Ursini said it’s his plan to address everyone’s concerns about his proposed developments. He also hopes to increase the value of the surrounding homes and businesses. The two-single family homes he plans to build on Buttonwood Drive are expected to have an approximate value between $2 million and $2.5 million.
“I would say I’m hoping to break ground by April 1 and be completed within one year,” Ursini said. “That would be the goal.”
Ursini has hired engineer Jason Coates of Bradenton-based Shoryer Dapala Engineering LLC to help with the proposals. The group has submitted a site development plan to the town.
The first of the public hearings for Ursini’s proposals could happen as soon as this month. The Planning and Zoning Board is due to meet next on Feb. 15, but the agenda has yet to come out.
Tucker opposed the November 2021 referendum, and was a proponent of fixing the drainage issues first.
However, Tucker said Buttonwood Harbour’s drainage problems are interconnected. Tucker specifically mentioned the Monroe Street easement, the Buttonwood Drive entrance to the neighborhood at Gulf of Mexico Drive, the easement between Buttonwood Drive and Triton Bend and the easement on Longview Drive. Kimley-Horn is expected to retain Hyatt Survey Services Inc. to collect data in these areas, according to public records.
Both the Buttonwood Harbour and Sleepy Lagoon drainage assessments have are six tasks:
Kimley-Horn is expected to provide town leaders with monthly status reports and invoices. The town is also expected to hold at least one public workshop on the assessments.
Both assessments have an allowance of $5,000 for “unforeseen tasks required to complete the project.”
Brownman said the town uses an engineering consultant library to determine which firms to hire for projects. He called Kimley-Horn “the best firm for the job.”
“Kimley-Horn is a good firm,” Brownman said. “We’ve done work with them in the past. I’m familiar with them from my time in Sarasota County.”
Brownman explained the process the town will undergo in the coming months.
“(Kimley-Horn) is going to gather all that data, the observations of rainfall, feedback from the neighborhoods, the public, the residents living in the neighborhoods, put together an evaluation of recommendations to improve the area, and that gives us a basis that (would) start planning those improvements in our capital program and our maintenance efforts,” Brownman said.
Brownman said preparations will begin this month and in March for fiscal year 2023 budget cycle projects.
“It’s not going to get into, necessarily, the FY 2023 budget cycle with specific projects, though there might be some dollars set aside for general drainage,” Brownman said. “It’s something we already do.”
Once town leaders get recommendations based on the assessments, Brownman said the town could then outline the specific costs for the necessary remedies.
“I hope that the final report and the elements that are derived from it are the beginning of the road and not the end of the road (toward finding solutions to mitigate drainage and flooding issues),” Tucker said.
From a bigger picture standpoint, Harmer said Longboat Key must consider several factors as a barrier island.
“(It’s) not just sea-level rise, but it’s also storm events, tropical storms, winter weather, hurricanes, back (Sarasota) Bay high-tide flooding, all these things impact the island in different ways,” Harmer said. “And, portions of the island are lower than other portions.”