BRADENTON — Not only is some of the $56 million needed in question, but there are several other hurdles that will have to be dealt with to complete a five-year beach restoration project on Anna Maria Island.
But regardless of the obstacles, the pumping of sand onto Coquina Beach and a small portion in Anna Maria should begin in January.
That was what the Manatee County Commission heard Thursday from Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county’s Natural Resources Department, at a workshop meeting.
Hunsicker said one of the issues he is working through is the continuing erosion of Coquina Beach, which requires a more immediate response.
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Also, the project planning becomes more difficult because of state requirements and federal funding, he said.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection permitting process delays the project, while the U.S. Corps of Engineers may take more than four years to review the northernmost portion of the City of Anna Maria because it opted out of the last beach nourishment project.
But Hunsicker said there was positive movement toward getting sand on the beaches.
The Port Dolphin company has contributed $5.5 million for beach restoration.
Port Dolphin is building a natural gas port about 25 miles offshore, with pipelines to Port Manatee crossing the county’s and Longboat Key’s source for sand.
Another bit of good news was that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended its commitment of $3.1 million for repairing the damage from the 2004 storm season until May.
And because of the Port Dolphin plan to close the traditional sand resource, requiring the county and Longboat Key to recover the sand before pipeline construction, the two governments have coordinated contracting and will keep the cost to $600,000 each.
Hunsicker said some of the sand from the Port Dolphin borrow pit will be used for the northern end of Anna Maria, with the rest being stored in the county’s other permitted borrow site.
That sand transfer should begin in November 2012.
Hoping the permitting and funding process proceeds as planned, Hunsicker said the complete beach restoration project, in which 1.5 million cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto the shore from Coquina Beach to the Anna Maria city limits, should start in November 2014.
Giving the commissioners more good news, Hunsicker said the state will allow the county to rebuild the groins north of Coquina Beach, which were installed in the 1960s, because they have proven effective in slowing beach erosion.
Where the county may have difficulty, he said, is in convincing the state that the original erosion groin, which was converted to a fishing pier, should be reconstructed at Manatee Beach.
The fishing pier was demolished last year when it was found to be unsafe.
Also, if the pier was deemed recreational, then Beach Erosion Control Tourism Funds could not be used to pay for the $1.4 million replacement.
Hunsicker suggested applying for the pier permit, studying the effect on sand erosion at Manatee Beach without the pier, and if there is no erosion, then find another funding source to build it.