Anna Maria Island beach renourishment project starts Thursday

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 10, 2013 

HOLMES BEACH -- A $13 million beach renourishment project could start in Holmes Beach as soon as Thursday.

The renourishment project along central Anna Maria Island is expected to continue through Feb. 10, with dredging for a related $3 million project at Coquina Beach to immediately follow, Charlie Hunsicker, county director of parks and natural resources, told the Tourist Development Council.

With favorable weather, work should be complete by April, he said.

A related project to install three adjustable groins to curb erosion at Cortez also is slated to begin early next year and continue for nine months, Hunsicker said.

Mobilization of equipment is expected to start Thursday at 78th Street in Holmes Beach where sand will be pumped onto the shore by a dredge barge as it continues south 4.7 miles almost to Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach, he said.

The project is financed with federal, state and county dollars, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers serving as the contracting agent. "This is your income tax coming back to you from Washington," Hunsicker told a crowd gathered at the Holmes Beach City Hall.

Local political support for such programs is "absolutely necessary" to keep money for it coming, Hunsicker said.

About 75 percent of the work is financed by the Army Corps of Engineers due to an emergency federal appropriation to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy, which also provided money for repairs to other Florida areas damaged by other storms, Hunsicker said.

He predicted such money will diminish over time.

"I think we're going to be looking into the future with a much higher obligation among local governments to fund renourishment," he said.

Officials from various beach cities that will benefit from the renourishment efforts attended the meeting.

"I'm absolutely thrilled. It's one reason everybody comes here," Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti said after the meeting.

Asked whether he's hearing from visitors who want to know if their beach stays might be disrupted, Monti said there should be plenty of beach to enjoy apart from the portion under renourishment.

From business people, he's never heard anything but positive comments, he said.

"It's our lifeblood," he added.

Sara Kennedy, government reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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