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Date of Issue: January 18, 2007

Holmes Beach addresses sand pile concerns

Holmes Beach city officials designed a plan to satisfy residents who want to see sand on Island beaches not piled high on a city lot.

"I believe we addressed their concerns," Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said, referring to the city's answers to complaints about the staging area north of city hall for the Key Royale Bridge and ongoing Holmes Beach dredging projects.

A complaint from 244 property owners at Westbay Point & Moorings and Shell Point condominiums arrived at Holmes Beach City Hall Jan. 4. The letter detailed concerns about the staging area.

The complaint stated that the property owners "vehemently protest the continued existence of the unsightly mess adjacent to the basketball court.

"As you know, the mess referred to is the assortment of sand piles, piles of lumber, various pieces of equipment, vehicles and other miscellaneous items normally associated with a construction site."

At the time the complaint was filed, city officials were already trying to address what residents considered a nuisance about a block north of city hall on what once was a parking lot near the recreation field. A fence had gone up in an effort to shield the staging site and the city public works department planned to plant "vegetation and shrubbery," according to Bohnenberger.

On Jan. 9, Bohnenberger, Holmes Beach City Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens and public works superintendent Joe Duennes informed Westbay Point and Shell Point residents of additional efforts to diminish the nuisance.

Construction equipment and materials used in the reconstruction of the Key Royale Bridge will be removed by the summer, when the project is completed.

To alleviate residents' concerns about the dredging material, dredging work in the future will be conducted out-of-season, the mayor said.

Also, the city plans to build a barrier around the sand pile to contain any runoff and to lower the height of the pile to below the height of the fence.

Regarding concerns from residents, many of them seasonal, and some city officials that the staging area impacts the basketball court, Bohnenberger said, "We'll get that fenced in and put a gate on the street side."

The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee briefly discussed the city's plans during meeting Jan. 10.

"The dredging equipment will be leaving in April and it will be coming back in April 2008," said committee chair Jim Dunne.

"When they return after this dredging season it will appear much better," Dunne continued.