Vol 6 No. 18 - January 25, 2006

Renourishment project becoming �a hazard�

Above, New sand has eroded away from the beach renourishment pipe in Holmes Beach, above, leaving gaps in some areas.

By Tom Vaught and Laurie Krosney

BRADENTON BEACH – The renourishment project that began last July and continues to suffer delays has deteriorated into something of a nightmare, according to those who visit, live on or make their livings at the beach.

The string of huge pipes is blocking beach access for many and has become dangerous and unsound due to erosion of sand beneath it, Island officials and business owners complain.
"It’s a hazard to the health and welfare of the people on the beach," said Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, who added that he couldn’t understand why the contractor couldn’t finish the job. "In Longboat Key, they have a contractor who has kept going all through the winter. This contractor obviously is not capable of doing the job."

In some areas of Bradenton Beach, the pipeline collapsed and fell as much as four feet because so much sand had been washed away beneath it. In other areas, three-to-four-foot dropoffs have formed on the Gulf side of the pipes, making it dangerous for people using sand walkovers formed by the contractor, Goodloe Marine Inc.

So far, there have been no reports of any injuries. However, some beachfront resort owners say they’ve had enough. Louis Najmy, owner of the Sand Pebbles Beach Resort at the south end of the pipe in Bradenton Beach, said he talked with other resort owners about bringing legal action.

"It’s cutting into our business," he said. "It should either be going on or going away."
Beach visitors at sunset Sunday evening were also upset. Herb Kanter travels back and forth from Bradenton Beach to Chicago and expressed frustration at the continuing delays.
"Why is it taking so long?" he asked. "Why don’t they get someone else to finish it? There must be penalties built into the contract for a project of this size. If they can’t finish it on time, let them pay a penalty and use that to bring in someone who can finish the job."
Barbara Kanter agreed.

"They should have finished already," she said. "This is ridiculous."

"It’s really terrible," said Al Scatino, who hails from New York and owns property in Holmes Beach. "It’s not at all like the renourishment projects prior to this. Those were efficient and competently run. This one’s neither. It’s taking way too long. What’s going on?"
Scatino said the other residents in his building have similar complaints.

People who live in the Sandpiper Mobile Park are experiencing problems as well.
"Why is it taking so long?" asked Jeanette Barter. "I heard it was the weather, but it’s nice out there this week. Where are they? We’ve had lots of nice days when they didn’t work."
Gary Raab lives in Michigan but has spent the past three winters in Bradenton Beach.
"Everyone is complaining about it," he said. "A lot of people have trouble getting over the pipe and it’s kind of an eyesore, isn’t it? It’s nice to have the beach refurbished, but it would be nice to have it done. Why don’t they make them finish it?"

Last Friday, Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore wrote a letter to Charles Stevens, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager for this renourishment. It read in part, "This morning, I went with my public works official to look at a property on the beach located on Avenue E near 28th Street. I went down to the beach to inspect the pipes and noticed that the water is adjacent to the pipes now with a three-to-four foot drop-off. My public works superintendent confirmed this. I looked for an access to get to the water and there is none. I am 5’9" and unable to get over the pipes and to the surrounding waters."
Will it restart

Meanwhile, the Corps of Engineers might give the renourishment contractor more time to finish the job, but there is no decision yet on when the pipes will be removed from the beach until the project starts again.

That’s the word following a conference call between the Corps and the parties involved with the project that began after the fourth of July and was plagued by equipment breakdowns and bad weather all summer. When the project dragged into summer, the contractor, Goodloe Marine, Inc., asked for an extension because it could not dredge sand in water that had high waves.

"The Corps is trying to bring the contractor back," said Rick Spadoni, Senior Vice President of Coastal Planning and Engineering, which Manatee County hired to keep an eye on the quality of the project. "He wants to start April 1 because he feels it’s too dangerous to work out there before then.

"We have indications the Corps will allow a permit extension to May 1," he said. "They might get it extended to June 1, but after that, we get into turtle season."
Spadoni said he thought they could resolve the issue with a conference call scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Fate of the pipes

When The Sun called Goodloe last week to ask about the pipe, an employee there said to ask the Corps of Engineers. Ron Rutger, Corps team leader for the project, said he thought the pipes would be moved soon.

"Once they make a decision, the pipes will either be stored in appropriate locations or the job won’t go on, in which case the pipes will go away," Rutger said. "If they decide to give Goodloe an extension, the pipe won’t leave the beach completely, but they will be stored in appropriate locations on the beach.

The issue of endangered sea turtle nesting is a big one for the Corps to consider. Manatee
County Ecosystems Coordinator Charlie Hunsicker said he did not feel the Corps would consider extending the permit into the summer, when turtle nesting begins, and the contractor will have to finish before then.

An issue of water depth

When asked why Goodloe had to stop dredging while the Longboat Key project is still ongoing, Rutger said the dredge in that project has a hopper into which the sand is loaded and it is then barged to a pipe near the shore. He said that type of operation is more resistant to the waves.

Longboat Key Public Works Director Juan Florensa confirmed that the dredge on their project is a hopper dredge. He also talked about why that type of dredge would not work for our project.

"The hopper dredge is a big vessel, about 300 feet long and it draws as much as 23- to 24-feet of water when it is full," he said. "They area where Goodloe is working is not deep enough for a dredge hopper, so they are using a hydraulic cutter head for your project."

Our timing was bad

"I believe that if they had started in April last year, it would have been a piece of cake," he said. "They ran into problems with storms when they started in July."
Rutger said the contractor only suffered two or three significant breakdowns that kept then out of operation for more than a day, otherwise, the problem has been the weather.
Instead of starting our renourishment in April 2005, there is a chance that Goodloe will put the final touches on it in April 2006.

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