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Date of Issue: March 02, 2006

Pipes won't be moved after all

Beach house pic
A house in need of renourishment
Only about 20 feet of beach remains in front of the BeachHouse Restaurant in Bradenton Beach at high tide, and any further beach erosion could likely cause waves to crash against the rocks protecting the establishment from the Gulf, as was the case four years ago before the last beach renourishment project. The current beach renourishment project has yet to reach the restaurantís location on the beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Manatee County Ecosystems Manager Charlie Hunsicker has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers not to remove and store the pipes currently on Anna Maria Island used for beach renourishment because of several factors, not the least of which is that contractor Goodloe Marine would have to put back the pipes in a mere three weeks.

Hunsicker had recently won approval from the Corps to have Goodloe remove and store the pipes at beach street ends until the project resumes on April 1, but encountered difficulties in determining the street-end boundaries between public and private property.

In addition, Goodloe said it would need three to four days to remove the pipes, then another three or four days to reinstall the system.

At the most, said Hunsicker, the Island would enjoy only about three weeks of "peace and quiet" without the pipes until graders, bulldozers and trucks would return to the beach to shatter the tranquility.

Goodloe is scheduled to resume renourishment on April 1, but has to begin its preparations on March 15.

The present situation, with pipes on the beach and beach walkovers for public access, is not the best solution, said Hunsicker, but it doesn't completely disrupt the beach as would the effort to remove the pipes, then return in three weeks to repeat the process.

"We don't want to completely disrupt what we have now," he added. Keeping the pipes in place for a few more weeks "is not the best solution, but the better solution."

He regretted that some Island accommodation owners and beachfront residents would be inconvenienced by the pipes staying in place, but that should be outweighed by the turmoil the trucks and equipment would cause removing the pipes, then coming back in three weeks for another few days of contractor activity that would disrupt the beach.

Hunsicker added that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to extend the renourishment permit for 60 days until June 1, if Goodloe starts operations on April 1, weather permitting. If Goodloe can't get up to speed by that date, the DEP said the permit would expire May 1 and the renourishment project would shut down.

In January, Hunsicker had attempted to get the Corps to have Goodloe remove the pipes under a contract provision that the pipes would not interfere with the upcoming turtle nesting season, but the Corps apparently turned a blind eye to Hunsicker's effort.

Because the emergency renourishment project is entirely funded by the federal government, Manatee County had little say in the project and was unable to step in at its own expense and remove the pipes in January after Goodloe halted renourishment in mid-December. The project began at the Holmes Beach-Anna Maria city limit and moved south along the beach until halting at 19th Street North in Bradenton Beach.

Goodloe claimed it didn't want to hurt the tourist season by working on the beach during the winter months, but many Island accommodation owners say leaving the pipes on the beach for three months and not completing the project has already cost them a good season.

The project was scheduled for completion in November, but Goodloe said mechanical problems and bad weather forced numerous delays.