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Date of Issue: January 11, 2007

Property owners object to Holmes Beach sand pile

hb sandpile pic
Property owners at Westbay Point & Moorings and Shell Point in Holmes Beach want the staging area for the Key Royale Bridge and Holmes Beach dredging projects to be relocated. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

A complaint on behalf of 244 property owners at Westbay Point & Moorings and Shell Point seeks the relocation of the staging area for the Key Royale Bridge and Holmes Beach dredging projects.

The complaint, received at Holmes Beach City Hall Jan. 4, was signed by Jon R. Lindwall, treasurer of the Westbay Point & Moorings Community Association, and H. William Gallagher, president of the Shell Point group.

As the complaint was on its way to city hall, Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger was already acting to address residents' concerns.

"I have directed our city public works department to take measures to screen the area from view and to plant vegetation and shrubbery to serve as a natural screen," Bohnenberger said.

"I hope these measures will make the situation less offensive," the mayor continued.

Complaints about the area are not new and concerns were discussed briefly by city commissioners at their last meeting in 2006.

But the new year began with the new complaint.

The complaint stated that 200 Westbay Point & Moorings owners and 44 Shell Point 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 construct site."

The material is related to two ongoing projects - canal dredging and the reconstruction of the Key Royale Bridge.

Lindwall, in an interview Jan. 5, said, "We're looking for it to be completely taken out of there. If anybody's got any ideas we certainly would appreciate them."

The residents expressed concerns that the staging area may negatively impact real estate values and sales.

They also expressed concern for the health and safety of people, specifically athletes on the nearby basketball and tennis courts and recreation field and children tempted to play on the sand and equipment.

"We understand that such a site is necessary to the satisfactory completion of the projects," the complaint read. "It is, however, strongly suggested that the city consider an alternate location for this clearly necessary function."

Bohnenberger said "the good news is the bridge project is expected to be completed within the next six months" but the "not so good news is the city is expected to be dredging for the next five years."

The mayor also said the city lacks an alternate site for the staging area. "This area is the only city-owned open land that is not dedicated for some recreational use," he said.

Like the property owners, Bohnenberger said he'd like to hear ideas for a solution.

"Nobody wants it in their backyards," the mayor said. "I understand that they are not happy. If somebody has a piece of land to donate.…"