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Town works toward north-end flooding solutions

With several low-lying areas throughout Longboat Key, the town is considering its priorities to address flooding.

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 22, 2023
Studies have been conducted in Longbeach Village and most recently Buttonwood Harbour and Sleepy Lagoon.
Studies have been conducted in Longbeach Village and most recently Buttonwood Harbour and Sleepy Lagoon.
File photo
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Flooding is an issue for many neighborhoods on Longboat Key, leaving some feeling left behind as Buttonwood Harbour and Sleepy Lagoon neighborhoods get targeted solutions to their flooding problems. 

Residents in other neighborhoods on the north end of the island find themselves wondering if their issues have been forgotten or if they are just further down the line. 

“Several neighbors asked why Buttonwood Harbour and (Sleepy Lagoon) were chosen to study when (Tropical Storm) Eta proved the lowest locations on the island were located throughout the north end,” resident Ashlie Thomison wrote in a Facebook message to The Observer. 

Thomison lives on St. Judes Drive near Joan Durante Park. 

She cited that following the tropical storm in 2020, many residents in her neighborhood had to gut their homes due to damages. 

"It's just a question of triage or prioritization of what has to happen first," Mayor Ken Schneier said. 

Heavy rain and high tide can lead to flooded roads on vulnerable parts of the Key.
File photo

The town's Public Works department has worked with engineers including Kimley-Horn to identify areas prone to flooding and the damages related to help the Town Commission decide where to put dollars first. 

"In light of the recent reports for Sleepy Lagoon and Buttonwood neighborhoods, we have asked Kimley-Horn and Associates to take another look at the Village studies and ensure they are in line with current recommendations," Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said in an email. "For pursuing grant applications, the town is including the Village area drainage as part of those grant requests."

Residences on the north end, particularly The Village, were hit hard with storm surge and heavy rains from Tropical Storm Eta with waters rising into homes. However, it doesn’t take a tropical storm to flood roads on the island. Many neighborhoods on the north end are more susceptible to flooding during high tide or a heavy afternoon storm than their neighbors on the south end. 

Two studies have already been completed in Longbeach Village as it has previously been identified as one of the lowest lying areas on the Key. 

In 2016, the town paid $35,940 to Venice-based DMK Associates Inc. to evaluate the stormwater system in the Village and suggest solutions. 

New seawalls, stormwater valves or pumping systems were among solutions presented in the report. 

In 2018, in hopes of combating some of the flooding issues, the town’s Public Works department installed WaStop Inline Check Valves. The valves are a flexible, hollow cone-shaped barrier with its apex facing inward and upward. 

When stormwater fills the pipe, the pressure lifts the bottom of the barrier, allowing stormwater out. When the tide rises above the valve, water fills the sealed hollow barrier, stopping it from flowing inward. 

Even with the new valves installed, five years later, flooding is still an issue in the Village. 

Lyons Lane was among the first problem areas addressed by raising the road and tipping it to change the direction of water flow. To Schneier's knowledge, the improvement is serving its purpose, he said. 

In February 2022, the town identified Buttonwood Harbour and Sleepy Lagoon neighborhoods as areas of concern and hired Kimley-Horn to conduct the study. 

The town paid the firm just over $90,000 for the eight-month Sleepy Lagoon assessment and an additional $78,733 for the six-month Buttonwood Harbour assessment. 

The final report was provided to the commission with possible next steps in December 2022. 

Sleepy Lagoon neighborhood solutions were focused on raising roads in phases including: 

  • Phase 1: Norton Street, which could cost about $1.35 million
  • Phase 2: Bayview Drive and Penfield Street, which is projected to cost $1.86 million
  • Phase 3: General Harris Street and Marbury Lane, which is projected to cost $1.72 million
  • Phase 4: Da Narvaez Drive and Juan Anasco Drive, which could cost about $1.15 million

Buttonwood Harbour proposed solutions included the following projects: 

  • Project 1: Buttonwood Drive and Winslow Place road reconstruction, which is expected to cost $1.48 million
  • Project 2: Flow diversion, which is estimated to cost $540,000
  • Project 3: Ditch optimization, which is estimated to cost $540,000 
  • Project 4: Longview shoreline stabilization and reconstruction, which is expected to cost $510,000
  • Project 5: Buttonwood shoreline stabilization, which is expected to cost $84,000
  • Project 6: Monroe Street saltwater marsh, which is estimated to cost $104,000

The town dedicated about $1.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to be used to offset costs of recommended actions of the neighborhood and sea level rise studies. 


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