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Date of Issue: August 16, 2007

Renourishment planned despite county budget woes

Groining pains
The northernmost groin on Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach will be refurbished under Manatee County's upcoming beach renourishment project to perform double duty as both a groin and a fishing pier, similar to the Manatee Public Beach pier in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

While Manatee County officials are struggling to come to grips with the state-mandated 9 percent cut in spending for 2007-08, one project that won’t be affected by the budget is the upcoming Anna Maria Island beach renourishment project.

That’s because the project, which includes only Coquina Beach, Cortez Beach and a .6 mile section of Anna Maria beach, will be funded entirely by tourism tax revenues - aka “the bed tax” - along with some state funds. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will fund the Anna Maria portion.

Manatee County Conservation Lands Management Director Charlie Hunsicker said the project, originally scheduled to begin in November, is now on track for a January-February 2008 start. And it will be without the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involved in planning and implementation.

The Corps was in charge of the botched 2005-06 emergency beach renourishment project that was only 75 percent complete when the permit expired. This project will be managed by Manatee County, Hunsicker pledged.

The current plan is to obtain the 200,000 cubic yards needed from a dredging project at Longboat Pass.

The design portion of the project should be presented to the county commission in October, Hunsicker said. Public meetings will be held in Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria in November.

At the same time as the dredging project is in the design phase, Hunsicker will be preparing a plan to repair the three erosion-control groins at Cortez Beach.

Because of budget constraints, however, he’s been given the go-ahead by the Manatee County Commission to re-design the northernmost groin to serve as a recreational pier similar to the one at the Manatee Public Beach. The remaining two groins will be rebuilt, but without any top walkway. Those two structures will remain off-limits to the public.

 Another phase of the plan is to construct some artificial reefs in deep water just off Coquina Beach, Hunsicker added.

A full Island renourishment project isn’t scheduled to begin until 2010 or later, Hunsicker noted.