Renourishment coming in 2020

An endless battle with Mother Nature continues: Sand in, sand out along Anna Maria Island’s shorelines.

Manatee County commissioners voted earlier this month to approve agreements advancing two beach renourishment projects in 2020 stretching on the shoreline from Holmes Beach to Bradenton Beach, then to Longboat Pass.

The county is partnering with the Army Corps of Engineering as the non-federal sponsor of the projects.

The so-called “central beach project” will stretch from 78th Street North in Holmes Beach to about Fifth Street South in Bradenton Beach. Federal funding from the Corps will pay 59.05% of the cost and the remaining 40.95% will be split between the state and county.

The southern renourishment will begin at Fifth Street South in Bradenton Beach and end at Longboat Pass. The cost for this phase will be split 50/50 between the state and county.

Most of the funds for the two projects — they will be combined to save money — will come from federal and state governments, but Manatee County’s tourist development tax is the local funding source.

The 5% tourist tax is collected on rentals of less than six months, and money must be spent on tourist-related projects.

Combining the projects offers savings by avoiding the need to hire a separate contractor to mobilize for each project, which can exceed more than $5 million a time, according to the letter of financial capability presented to commissioners by Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Manatee County Parks and National Resources Department.

According to documents presented at the Oct. 8 commission meeting, federal money — about $11.9 million — for the central beach project was provided in response to requests from several states bordering the Gulf of Mexico following beach erosion from hurricanes such as Irma in 2017.

According to a Sept. 29 letter from the Corps, the county’s financial commitment to the Corps is $15,934,046 — $8,054,046 for the central beach project and $6,175,000 for the Bradenton Beach to Longboat Pass project.

Payment will be due from the county by Dec. 1 in order to bid the project by Dec. 10.

Final documents and recommended edits will be provided to the commission by Manatee County attorney William Clague at a Nov. 19 meeting.

Hunsicker said more than 700,000 cubic yards of sand will be dredged from a sandbar offshore at the northern end of Anna Maria Island and pumped into pipes to the renourishment area.

Work could begin in February 2020 and last for about six months.

Hunsicker noted that beaches on the Gulf coast can lose 10 feet in depth and width every year.