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Date of Issue: October 15, 2008

BB explores dune restoration plan

Bradenton Beach city commissioners gave city staff the go-ahead to prepare a grant application for a dune restoration project across from city hall.

The project’s future, however, depends on the amount of in-kind support city staff can drum up.

The project may also involve working with Ed Chiles and his BeachHouse Restaurant, which owns undeveloped land adjacent to the city property on the west side of the 100 block of Gulf Drive North near First Street.

The commission, during a work meeting Oct. 9, reviewed with city project and program manager Lisa Marie Phillips and building official Steve Gilbert plans to seek a grant under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Partnerships Initiative.

Phillips asked for and received tentative support for a very preliminary plan because the grant application deadline is Oct. 21.

She said she had not planned to seek a grant until the city recently was asked if it could use some beach-quality sand.

A condition of the grant is a $1 to $1 match in funds, Phillips said, such that i the state awards the city $15,000, the city must invest $15,000.

However, the investment can be in-kind services and materials, which is where the partnership with local businesses and organizations is a factor.

Specifically, the city project involves creating four parking spaces at the First Street property, including two ADA-compliant spaces; building dunes; installing a dune walkover; and possibly an ADA-accessible viewing platform at the walkover.

Adding dunes, Gilbert said, would add protection to Gulf Drive and city hall, as well as enhance wildlife habitat.

“I’m told now that’s considered a flat dune,” he said. “It provides no protection from a surge or breaking waves.”

Gilbert said the project would require permits from the DEP, and he suggested that the BeachHouse and Chiles might find it advantageous to get involved so enhancements could be made to a larger area.

While authorizing staff to proceed, the commissioners and Mayor Michael Pierce expressed concern about costs to the city.

Pierce pointed out that it is a city expense even if the city’s only contribution is labor hours from the public works, building and planning and projects and program departments.

Phillips said, “Yes, one way or another it is going to cost the taxpayers something.”

But, she said, it doesn’t have to cost them much.

“We’re relying heavily on partnerships. It’s aggressive.”