Story Tools

Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Please, let us give you some money for the beach

It's not often that the federal government insists on giving locals money, but that's just what happened between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Manatee County regarding the beaches on Anna Maria Island.

The Corps had offered earlier this year to fund the renourishment of the Island's beaches after erosion from the four summer-fall hurricanes literally ate away several years' worth of life on the shoreline. The beach was renourished in 1992-93 and again in 2002.

Manatee County commissioners declined the federal offer of added sand, though, due to fears that the sand would not be the fine, white stuff that all have become accustomed to.

Now, in a Dec. 15 letter to Manatee County Commission Chair Jane von Hahmann, Col. Robert M. Carpenter of the corps is once again offering to fund the sand replacement effort with top-notch sand.

"I would like to assure you that the full resources of the Corps are available to find the best available borrow site to produce the sand you desire for rehabilitation of the project beaches," Carpenter wrote, "and to perform full and complete construction monitoring as the work progresses."

Rick Spadoni, a coastal engineer with the county's beach consultant, Coastal Planning and Engineering, estimated storm sand loss at upwards of 298,000 cubic yards. However, Carpenter said the Corps estimated the total loss of sand at 408,000 cubic yards.

"This volume would be placed onto the project beaches at 100-percent federal expense, currently estimated at $3.4 million," Carpenter said. "This represents 41.5 percent of the normal renourishment volume of 982,100 cubic yards. The next scheduled renourishment is not until the year 2010, leaving Manatee County's beaches vulnerable to future storms."

County commissioners are expected to discuss the Corps offer in early January.

"We're looking again at the Corps offer," said Manatee County Ecosystem Manager Charlie Hunsicker. "They've asked us to reconsider and said they'll work their hardest to get the best quality sand they can."

The news should come at some relief to Anna Maria north-end homeowners who were not included in previous renourishment projects, who will be allowed to pay for bulk sand without the associated dredging costs.