ENGLEWOOD — The members of the South Manasota-Sandpiper Key Association don’t have much longer to wait for the arrival of the sand man.

Charlotte County still needs the Army Corps of Engineers to sign off on its permit to pump sand onto Manasota Key’s Gulf shoreline. That’s not worrying Damian Ochab, president of the South Manasota/Sandpiper Key Association. At least not now.

“Hopefully, we will continue to see positive signs on our keys that include beach nourishment by the end of April,” Ochab wrote in the association’s newsletter

“The beach nourishment project should be noticeable in the middle of January with the mobilization of equipment by the contractor chosen by Charlotte County,” he said.

From county officials, Ochab learned the Army Corps has no issues about the project that could stall it. “It’s a matter of time,” Ochab said he was told. County officials expect the Corps to sign off on the permit by the end of this month.

“Actual laying down sand on our beaches should start sometime in the middle of February with the contractor using the most northern corridor to pump in sand from three miles out,” Ochab wrote in the newsletter. “Charlotte County beaches will see sand first, then Sarasota County properties and finally Don Pedro and Knight islands.”

Charlotte County is also confident the project is ready to go, announcing Thursday county preparation will begin on Feb. 1.

“During this project there will be staging and delivery areas on the northern end of Englewood Beach, 2100 North Beach Road, Englewood and the southern portion of Chadwick Park, 1857 Gulf Blvd., Englewood,” the county press release stated. “The beach will be open but patrons are encouraged to be cautious around these areas.”

The dredging contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, sat down with Charlotte County staff earlier this month for a pre-construction meeting. Great Lakes scheduled its mobilization of equipment and crews to begin last week. The equipment is coming from Savannah, Ga. Barring any inclement weather conditions, mobilization should be completed by Feb. 20.

The project needs to be completed on Manasota Key by May 1, which is the start of the sea turtle nesting season.

According to Great Lakes’ plans, sand for the Charlotte portion of Manasota Key should take less than 30 days. By mid-March, crews should start placing sand along Sarasota County portion of Manasota Key, north to just beyond the public Blind Pass Beach. Afterwards, dredging crews will place sand on Knight and Don Pedro islands, south of Stump Pass.

In both counties, the sand project will leap over properties, such as those along Shoreview Drive in Charlotte County, whose Gulf-front owners refused to sign construction easements with the counties.

Once the dredging crews arrive, Charlotte County will provide weekly online updates of the sand project under “Project Status,” www.charlotte countyfl.gov.

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