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Coquina beach project to cost $13.6 million


BRADENTON - A plan to put about 200,000 cubic yards of sand on the shore to restore Coquina Beach will cost Manatee County $4.6 million, county commissioners were told Tuesday.

The total cost will be $13.6 million, with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection picking up more than $6.6 million of the tab and the Federal Emergency Management Agency picking up the rest, mainly because the dredge to be used will already be in the area for another beach renourishment project.

Manatee County's share of the 4.2-acre restoration is expected to come from Tourist Development Taxes.

Originally, money from the West Coast Inland Navigation District was thought to be usable for the project and would have cut the cost for Manatee County, but that money can't be used, said Charlie Hunsicker, director of natural resources for the county.

The project received concurrence from the DEP, said Richard Spadoni, senior vice president of Coastal Planning and Engineering Inc., after several changes were made. "We think they are really happy this time," he said.

Because of the proximity of some hardbottom features that have become habitats, though, there will have to be some mitigation, Hunsicker said. Eight acres of artificial reef will have to be established offshore at about $1 million an acre.

Also required will be sand tightening and geotubes, and permanent structural improvement may be required in 2013 at a cost of $1.5 million.

Hunsicker showed pictures of the eroded beach, and noted that in May 2006 ATVs could not be used on it, and that a part of the road that's near Coquina Beach was nearly lost in a small storm. Not acting now could mean the loss of a FEMA opportunity and the county would hear from upset beachgoers.

"This part of the beach is important," he said.

County Commissioner Ron Getman expressed frustration that the hardbottom areas that were exposed because of the loss of beach sand have to be mitigated because they are going to be covered again. "We're pulling the sand out and now we're putting it back," he said. "There's got to be a better way."

Hunsicker replied that the DEP is telling the county it has to do the mitigation, and Getman responded that it's an example of overregulation by an agency that seems to be answerable to no one.

Commissioner Joe McClash asked why the beach had to be made so wide. "My concern is how much beach we're adding," he said.

Commissioner Larry Bustle said that he remembered when the beach not only went out further, but that there were houses on the beach and a pipe from an artesian well. After the houses went away due to a hurricane, he said, he'd swim out to the pipe 200 yards offshore and get a drink of fresh water.

McClash asked about an indentation in the planned coverage of the beach, and Spadoni said that was because of the hardbottom area and the need to cut down the amount of sand being used.

The project is likely to be ready for bids this summer, Spadoni said.

Manatee Beach Pier

Also Tuesday at the workshop, commissioners OK'd work on the Manatee Beach Pier. The project will cost $1.52 million, but the three bids for demolition came in at $250,000 to $300,000 (less than the estimate of $445,000, and the demolition could take 30 to 45 days.

The pier was originally an erosion control groin, Spadoni said the quickest the pier could be built is four to six months, and it could be ready for the late part of tourist season.

Wares Creek

Commissioners received an update on the Wares Creeek project. The county still needs an agreement with the city of Bradenton, said assistant county attorney William Clague, and is still working with the Southwest Florida Water Management District. They hope to be ready for bid in the summer of 2010.

Hunsicker said the spoil site should be completed by the summer. 


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