John and Kathy Meicht of West Chester, Pa., nearly have the beach to themselves March 7 near one of three crumbling groins at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Manatee County natural resources director Charlie Hunsicker will have his fingers crossed when Congress votes March 27 on a new spending plan. Included in the plan are emergency funds to restore beaches damaged by Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Debby.
Hunsicker said T.S. Debby did considerable damage to Anna Maria Island beaches from Holmes Beach south to Coquina Beach and renourishment there is already in the 2014-15 beach renourishment plan. If Congress approves the emergency funding, renourishment could possibly start this year, Hunsicker said.
“We’re practically shovel-ready now. It would not take us long to begin the project,” he said.
Included in the government package would be funding to convert some of the old groins at Coquina and Cortez beaches into walkable piers that would serve as groins and fishing spots.
Hunsicker went to Washington, D.C., recently to make his pitch for Manatee County to be included in emergency funding.
“Anna Maria Island, especially Coquina Beach and Cortez Beach, suffered significant beach erosion because of Debby,” Hunsicker said.
The county has been planning the 2014-15 island renourishment project for five years.