MAP PROVIDED BY MANATEE COUNTY
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
ANNA MARIA — City commissioners were expecting a brief report at their Jan. 27 commission meeting from the county on the possibilities of funding for a small strip of bay shore on the city's northeast side.
Instead, they heard a caution about funding sources during a 90-minute overview of all renourishment projects planned and scheduled for Anna Maria Island over the next several years. Charlie Hunsicker, the director of the Manatee County Department of Natural Resources and Rick Spadoni, vice president and senior engineer with Coastal Engineering laid out the scenario.
Several times during the presentation, Hunsicker cautioned commissioners that the funding for all these projects is not entirely guaranteed.
In the past, the county has secured renourishment funding from the federal and state governments. One penny of each tourist bed tax dollar is set aside for the local portion of the renourishment projects.
"This is a tough economy," Hunsicker cautioned. "Discretionary funding is being severely cut at the federal and state level. Nothing is guaranteed. Renourishment is discretionary funding. Discretionary funding is not guaranteed."
Some of the funding is already in place, however, including the money to begin with two smaller projects in about six weeks.
Timetable for projects
2011 – The first of the planned renourishment events is slated to begin in about six weeks.
"Sand will be pulled from the same borrow pit we've used in the past," Spadoni said.
Spadoni's firm is the largest coastal renourishment engineering company in the United States, and Spadoni has been the engineer on every renourishment project that has taken place on Anna Maria Island.
"We'll lay some down at Coquina Beach," he added. "This is a seriously eroded section, and it's important to protect Gulf Drive. "
That portion should take about about six weeks.
The county also is pursuing state permits to replace the three aging rock and concrete groins at Coquina with adjustable, permeable groins - similar to those recently built in Longboat Key – that allow water to flow through, reducing erosion, thus helping to protect Gulf Drive.
2012 – A small section to the Gulf side of Bean Point will be getting sand from the borrow pit over which the Port Dolphin natural gas pipeline will run.
"We went around and around about that," Hunsicker said. "Move the pipeline; find other sand; move the pipeline. Finally someone said, 'Move the sand.'"
So the sand will be pumped out before the pipeline is laid down and that little section of beach will be stabilized with sand.
Additional sand will be pumped from out of the pipeline's path into the borrow pit that has traditionally been used for AMI projects.
Also planned for 2012 is an artificial reef offshore of Coquina Beach.
At the same time, the beach sand will be replenished in Anna Maria in a strip of shoreline that runs between Elm and Oak.
2015 – In 2015, the main, or central section of the beach will be renourished. This will be roughly the same area that was first renourished in 1992.
"We weren't too happy with the sand that time, but this time, we will get the white sugar sand," Hunsicker said. "The renourishment area will go a little further north and all the way south to Coquina."
A groin that will trap sand that's currently being swept into Longboat Pass will also be constructed in 2015
. "That pass is a very dynamic area, and the currents are exceptionally strong," Spadoni stated. "That sand is swept out with the tides and then back in on an incoming tide. You can see the buildup off to the east of the pass on the Longboat side."
North bay area
The bad news of the evening was that there is no funding for the bayside area in Anna Maria that runs from Bean Point to the Rod & Reel Pier.
"We know that area is seriously eroded," Spadoni said. "It used to be connected by Passage Key, but that's almost entirely underwater. You can only see it sometimes at very low tide."
The Key used to moderate the waters flowing through Anna Maria Pass, a current that Spadoni said is the strongest in the state.
"You get that water from the pass coming around closer to the Island now, and it scours that section of the bay," he said.
Putting sand down would be futile, according to Spadoni.
"Any sand you put there would be swept away, unless you protect it," he said.
The protection, which would include T-groins and renourishment, would cost an estimated $4,815,0000.
"That money just isn't there," Hunsicker said. "And even if we could find the money, with surveying, engineering studies and permitting, we're looking at 15 years out before we could lay the first grain of sand."
Hunsicker outlined an interim solution using Geotextile tubes for erosion control that would cost about $850,000.
"But I don't know where the money would come from," he said.