EAST MANATEE -- Concern over eroding backyards along Pearce Canal in the Garden Lakes community has prompted Manatee County officials to take another look at the site.
But Ron Schulhofer, Manatee County public works director, said Monday he doubts there is a problem with the canal.
"We don't see any significant erosion there," Schulhofer said.
But he said he plans to resurvey the canal because of resident concerns.
"We will meet with the residents and we will figure it out," Schulhofer said.
County staff members said they frequently visit the community off 37th Street East south of State Road 70 East to respond to resident concerns.
Last week, several leaders of the 55-plus community, including Garden Lakes association President Pat Harper, gathered in Mary Lou Moore's living room to discuss their concerns.
"The fact is we're losing property. It's a scary thing," Harper said.
During heavy rains last summer, the steep bank of the canal, which runs north from near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport toward the Braden and Manatee rivers, began to erode more rapidly, undoing repairs made a decade ago, residents said.
In the past, the county has reinforced the bank with rip-rap and concrete blocks.
Some material used to reinforce canal banks in the past has now tumbled into the canal. Several trees have also fallen into the canal, residents say.
Most alarming, though, is the loss of soil, bringing the canal bank ever closer to several homes.
"We don't want anyone to replace the land that we lost. We just want to stop the erosion," Harper said.
The Garden Lakes association hired a law firm to express its concerns to the county, including writing a letter to County Administrator Ed Hunzeker in November.
Moore said she is happy to hear county officials would give the canal another look, but disagreed with Schulhofer's assessment there has been no significant erosion.
A gate extending from a fence on her property line was once anchored in solid ground with enough firm footing to allow someone to walk around it. Now the gate hangs suspended in air, she said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1