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Wares Creek dredging project is moving along

BRADENTON — The final pieces to getting started with the Wares Creek dredging project are falling into place.

That was what Manatee County staff told the commission Tuesday in an project-update workshop.

Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county natural resources department, said the eminent domain proceedings for the old Bradenton City Hall property should be complete by the end of June.

The city hall property will be used for the dredge spoil drying site before the muck is hauled to the county landfill on Lena Road.

The commissioners will have a resolution on the land deal when they return from their July break, Hunsicker said.

County Assistant Attorney Bill Clague said the required partner cooperation agreement has been sent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers division office in Atlanta and should be returned within 30 days.

Once the agreement comes back, the commission will need to approve it before the Corps can start the approximately $20 million project.

Clague also said an interlocal agreement with the City of Bradenton is required and that was being processed.

“Once all that is done,” he said, “the Corps will have what it needs for the county to commence.”

Hunsicker previously said he expected the project to start in early spring 2010.

City and county officials have been working on starting this project for more than 25 years.

Dredging and reconstruction of the Wares Creek waterway became necessary after over development in the watershed over the years.

During heavy rains or tropical storm events residents along the banks of the four-mile creek, which is at most a drainage ditch in some places, have flooding in their yards and occasionally in their homes.

For those living near the mouth of the creek where it enters the Manatee River, the silt and sand buildup is so bad that during periods of no rain and very little water flows, the creek becomes a stinking muck bed.

The county overcame one of the last major hurdles last month when the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit that took several years to process.

The permit was even delayed once because during the process period a mangrove island developed in the middle of the creek and the state agency required studies to have a mitigation plan for the destruction of those protected plants.

The plan requires the county to plant mangroves at Emerson Point Park in an area similar in size as the Wares Creek island.

More than five government agencies are involved in this project.

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