MANATEE COUNTY – Manatee County has a FEMA-funded, county-managed beach renourishment project planned for Coquina Beach in early 2021.
The county is also partnering with the Town of Longboat Key on a beach renourishment project that includes the construction of five permeable rock groins.
The Town of Longboat Key also plans to conduct an emergency dredging operation on Greer Island, also known as Beer Can Island, at the northern tip of the key.
These projects were presented and discussed at the Tuesday, Dec. 15 Manatee County Commission meeting.
Coquina Beach renourishment
Tom Pierro, principal engineer with Coastal Planning and Engineering, presented the county’s Coquina Beach renourishment plan.
The county-owned beach is located in Bradenton Beach at the southern end of Anna Maria Island. Pierro said the Coquina Beach renourishment project pertains to a mile-and-a-half stretch of beach in that area.
Pierro said the beach area is managed locally by the county and does not contain the required infrastructure elements to have been included in the recently-completed Anna Maria Island beach renourishment project that received significant federal funding.
Pierro said the beach sand lost during Hurricane Hermine in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017 qualified the Coquina Beach renourishment project for FEMA funds.
About 200,000 cubic yards of sand can be removed from Longboat Pass, he said, adding that the county plans to use about 70,000 cubic yards of that available sand for the Coquina Beach renourishment project. He said the rest could possibly be made available to the Town of Longboat Key to renourish the beach at the end of Gulfside Road.
Pierro estimated the Coquina Beach renourishment project will cost approximately $3 million. He said the project plans are complete, and expects the contract to be awarded in January and the work to begin in February or March. Pierro said the project must be completed by the end of May to preserve the FEMA funds.
Greer Island dredging
Representing the Town of Longboat Key, Senior Project Manager Charlie Mopps presented the Greer Island emergency dredging plan.
Mopps said the purpose of the dredging operation is to improve and restore boat and kayak access to Greer Island lagoon near the Longboat Pass Bridge. Mopps said the emergency dredging project calls for the removal of about 1,000 cubic yards of sand in a 30-foot stretch of the lagoon.
Mopps said the dredging contract has been awarded to Duncan Seawall, Dock & Boat Lift. The dredging project is expected to begin soon and take only a few days to complete once started. Mopps said the sand removed from the lagoon will be stored for later use with the Longboat Key beach renourishment project.
Beach renourishment and groins
On behalf of the Town of Longboat Key, Al Browder, vice president of the Olsen Associates firm, provided county commissioners with an overview of the Longboat Key beach renourishment project.
The project is divided into three segments. Occurring first, segment 1 will include the north end of the key and Greer Island. The segment 1 plans call for the installation of five permeable groins and the addition of approximately 200,000 cubic yards of beach sand.
Browder said the beach renourishment sand will come from the town’s permitted borrow areas more than a mile offshore of Passage Key.
Browder said the low-crested permeable rock groins will complement two existing concrete groins located near the street end at North Shore Road. He said the goal is to slow the rate of sand flow and erosion in that area.
“The purpose here is to maintain sandy beach conditions along the Gulf. It has been a running battle to protect the north tip of Longboat Key and maintain the recreational value and the environmental habitat in the lagoon itself,” Browder said.
Browder said the segment 1 project is anticipated to start in February or March and take about 180 days to complete. When the segment 1 work is complete, some additional dune vegetation and mangrove restoration will take place along the Greer Island lagoon.
The segment 2 plan calls for 350,000 cubic yards of beach sand to be placed in the center section of the key’s Gulfside beach areas.
Listed in the Town of Longboat Key’s presentation as optional and dependent on available funds, the segment 3 plans call for 160,000 cubic yards of beach sand to potentially be placed at the south end of the key.
These discussions resulted in the county commission authorizing the county administrator to execute an interlocal agreement with the Town of Longboat Key that provides $2.69 million as the county’s contribution to the town’s renourishment project.
The accompanying adoption of Resolution 20-199 authorized a short-term loan not to exceed $1.99 million from the county’s general fund to its beach erosion control fund. The remaining $700,000 of the county’s contribution to the town project will come from the county’s beach renourishment reserve fund.
The commission also approved the town’s request for the easements needed for groin installations.