$5.7M Coquina Beach restoration contract OK'd

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 12, 2014 

MANATEE -- County commissioners approved a $5.7 million contract Tuesday to keep a dredging company here to restore Coquina Beach once it completes a Manatee County project farther north.

The contract, which calls for beach renourishment from Bradenton Beach south to Longboat Pass, was approved unanimously.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon was pleased to hear the dredge barge "California" would stay in the area after it completes work in his city.

"I'm tickled," he said. "Life is going to be good."

Not everyone was tickled.

June Rennell, 68, of Clarkston, Mich., vacationing Monday at the Coquina Beach Club, said people were "really complaining" about the beach restoration's thunderous noise and heavy equipment, which interfered with the usual lazy tranquility of the area.

"It hasn't bothered us, but it'll be in front of us soon," she said.

Bottom line is the contract will save Manatee County millions.

"We're in a unique position here, where the federal government has already paid for the vast majority of the cost to renourish Anna Maria Island," said Rick Spadoni, representing Coastal Planning and Engineering Inc. of Boca Raton. "We already have a contractor here. He's got all the equipment here to finish up."

The contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill., would save the county money by continuing south when it completes work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through Bradenton Beach, Spadoni said.

The company is expected to start its county-state beach restoration project in mid-March, said Charlie Hunsicker, county director of parks and natural resources. It is expected to take about a month to complete.

Mobilization costs typically range from $3 million to $9 million so the county will save millions by the arrangement, Hunsicker said.

The state is expected to reimburse about 50 percent of the cost, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency contributing money as well, he said.

The county will pay its share of the bill through bed taxes on tourists, Hunsicker said. No property tax money is used for beach renourishment.

About 7 miles of beach will be fortified by the two renourishment projects extending from 78th Street at Holmes Beach south to Longboat Key Pass.

Last year, the barrier island beaches overlooking the Gulf of Mexico took a beating from severe storms. The $13 million central Anna Maria Island renourishment project and the $5.7 million county-state project farther south are to repair erosion damage the storms inflicted.

"It's important to keep the timing and momentum going," Hunsicker said.

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

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