MANATEE — Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash said the county “lied to the federal government” today by passing a resolution seeking help for the dredging of a channel in Longboat Pass.
The resolution asked for assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “restore navigational safety” in the authorized federal channel in the pass.
But McClash said another coastal engineer’s report shows a natural channel has formed to the southwest of the federal channel, making the dredging unnecessary.
Boaters can use the natural channel safely, he said, and the U.S. Coast Guard has adjusted the channel marker system accordingly.
“The motion is false,” McClash said after the resolution was proposed. “There’s not a navigational issue in that pass. ... You’re saying to the Corps you’re having a problem you don’t have.”
McClash pulled the item from the consent agenda for discussion and asked for a delay in the vote until the engineer could offer commissioners a full report. But other commissioners elected to proceed with the vote, and the resolution passed 5-1 over McClash’s objection.
Charlie Hunsicker, the county’s natural resources director, said the West Coast Inland Navigation District, which is responsible for channel maintenance, has a “professional disagreement” with the engineer McClash cited about the importance of dredging the federal channel. He said WCIND and the town of Longboat Key supported resolutions similar to the one the commission passed Tuesday.
Hunsicker said beach renourishment also is an important component of the project. Sand removed from the federal channel will be used to renourish eroded beaches on Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.
The federal channel was last dredged in 1997. Federal funds will pay for any new dredging.