Coquina Beach — Time to say goodbye to more Australian pine trees.
Manatee County commissioners voted 6-1 June 17 to approve the second phase of a drainage improvement project at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach that involves removing 87 Australian pine trees — an invasive species with a shallow root system — to accommodate the project.
Commissioner Carol Whitmore voted “no,” saying the $3,628,026 projected cost would be better spent elsewhere.
Work will involve installing underground drainage pipes and pervious concrete at the beach’s northern parking lot to address pooling stormwater.
Michael Sturm, Manatee County public works project manager, said the second phase would impact around 700 parking spaces.
Phase 1 cost the county $3,367,417 and created about 200 concrete parking spaces.
The county began the project in 2019 due to frequent flooding in the parking area. By installing underground drainage pipes and covering the area with pervious concrete, the county hopes to prevent water from pooling in the area.
The first phase involved similar work for the southern end of parking and along an access road. Construction required the removal of 103 Australian pine trees.
The county moved forward with phase 1 despite opposition from Bradenton Beach commissioners and a petition with more than 1,000 signatures.
The county owns and maintains Coquina Beach, so the city was unable stop the project. However, the county had to abide the city code that requires the county replace each tree removed with a “Florida Friendly” tree.
The county plans to replace the Australian pine trees removed in phase 1 with 83 buttonwood trees, 10 gumbo limbo trees and 10 shady black olive trees in the grass near a playground at the south end of the beach.
The county plans to replace the Australian pine trees removed during phase 2 with 71 green buttonwoods, eight shady lady black olive trees and eight gumbo limbo trees on the north side of Coquina.
The replacement trees will be 12 feet tall when planted, with 4-foot-wide canopies.