By Betsy Calvert

Sun Staff Writer

Projects making the cut for this year’s marine projects ranged from rebuilding a beach to a sailboat for the disabled.

Not making the cut was funding for the Buckley’s Pass dredging project in Punta Gorda and event support for Englewood’s annual Waterfest.

Charlotte County commissioners last week approved $666,858 worth of projects to be funded from three sources including the local and state Boater Improvement Funds as well as the West Coast Inland Navigation District grants.

The county’s Marine Advisory Committee has a rule against funding projects that benefit just one region of the county, hence the rejection of $40,500 for Englewood’s Waterfest and $500,000 for Punta Gorda’s Buckley Pass dredge.

“The Committee did not fund any project that benefited a limited number of people,” committee member Garland Wilson told the Sun. “Waterfest assured us last year that they would not need any more assistance after 2018. We were hesitant then due to a private, for profit company running the show.”

The committee rejected $200,000 for the Manasota Key Beach Renourishment project, but commissioners as the final decision makers, overrode the advisory committee.

A consultant’s report last summer advised the county for the next eight years of financing to use $200,000 from the WCIND fund to help pay for the Manasota Key beach renourishment. The full project is expected to cost $37.5 million over that time, including interest. The state is expected to pay 39 percent of the project.

Most of the marine projects are small, such as $23,500 for a Canadian-built sailboat designed for the disabled called the Martin 16.

The county also pays for one staffing position with the funding. That’s the person who oversees the derelict boat program, where the county figures out how to get rid of boats that are abandoned in the waterways.

School programs are funded including a fourth-grade environmental program and another school program called “Be the Fish.”

Several projects support beginning sailing programs run by the local community groups including the Charlotte Harbor Community Sailing Center.

Boater safety materials, marine markers and emergency helicopter services are also funded, with funding going to the county’s public works and parks departments as well as the Civil Air Patrol.

The county will get help repairing boat ramps and seawalls and removing debris in the water.

Projects that support fishing are funded, including the construction and monitoring of artificial reefs.

Finally, every year, grants include funding the so-called Pump Out Boat. That’s the boat that keeps the harbor clean by pumping the sewage out of everyone’s boat for free.

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