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Still to come: Town to tackle new projects

Implementing a canal maintenance program and replacing deteriorating pipes are among projects starting in the new year.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 30, 2022
Town canals were put into seven groups to help pursue funding sources.
Town canals were put into seven groups to help pursue funding sources.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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A lot of the work on the drawing board now consists of projects that might be hard to see when completed, but will lead to safer sewage and water handling, easier boating, and easier access to entertainment. Though 2023 might see some of these projects to completion, they are all longer-range in nature. 

Canal navigation maintenance program 

The town is working to develop a canal navigation dredge program to maintain the town’s 81 canals consistently, alleviating the need for major dredge projects every few years. The last major dredge the town completed was in 2003.

Discussion of such a project has been ongoing with the last update to the town in March 2021. 

Fourteen priority canals have been identified, but the list may grow since the original study was conducted in 2016. Priority canals were categorized as such due to the state of the canal and its ability to meet its designed intent: navigation. 

“The town has never really had a program to have a regular ongoing maintenance dredge of the centerline of the canal,” Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said. “Canals eventually start to fill in, and it’s hard to get boats in and out.” 

Since then, as canals start to fill in with silt and sand, the town began debating the potential for instating an ongoing program. 

Town staff is working to identify potential sources for funding the program and its associated dredging projects. An update will be provided to the town commission at the Jan. 23, 2023 workshop. 

Town center phase three 

Phase three is a longer-term effort following construction of the pavilion and site improvements in phase 2. 

Potential uses for the remaining land includes a multi-purpose building or campus style community center. Potential programs for the center include adult lifelong education, library services and a multi-purpose space in an operating partnership agreement. 

Town staff is in discussions with Sarasota County Libraries, Sarasota County School Board and Education Center at TBI regarding a partnership for services and funding. 

Sarasota County has budgeted $1 million in fiscal year 2023 to advance planning and design of the community center. 

Asbestos pipe replacement 

The Country Club Shores asbestos cement pipe replacement project consists of four phases. Design of all four phases are complete. 

The need for replacement comes from the fragility of the current pipe, which was placed in the 1960s. 

“Our team is having to fix leaks and breaks in Country Club Shores fairly regularly and with enough frequency that we understand that this material has probably lived its useful life,” Brownman said. “It’s time to replace it with a more hearty, more durable material.”

Phases one and two are full water main replacement into roadway areas due to current pipe locations and tie-in points to maintain service. Phases three and four will involve pipe bursting in place, which is a less invasive process. 

The town currently has $7.1 million budgeted for the replacement over a four year period. 

Sewer line: Under the bay 

In early 2020, the town asked Carllo Engineers to obtain permits for a redundant sub-aqueous force main under Sarasota Bay and into mainland environmentally-sensitive areas. 

The total cost for replacing the entire sewer line was originally estimated to be about $24.8 million when the town was going to build the parallel pipe, but with the new method for the mainland portion the new estimated cost is about $21.7 million or lower. 

The mainland portion is now being slip-lined into the original pipe, rather than running one parallel to the existing pipe. 

A few approaches have been considered to build a redundant pipe across the bay, including the most aggressive approach, open cutting. Open cutting is a method of pipeline installation that requires digging up the underwater bed of Sarasota Bay to the required depth for installing the pipe. 


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