ENGLEWOOD — Beginning next week, Manasota Key could see fresh sand along its Gulf shoreline.
Workers should begin pumping sand onto the shoreline starting Thursday, Feb. 20, barring any inclement weather or other unforeseen delay.
Crews for the dredging contractor, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, spent this week laying pipeline from offshore sand sources to Manasota Key at the Sarasota-Charlotte county line.
The plan calls for restoring Gulf shoreline along the Charlotte portion of barrier island first, down to Stump Pass Beach State Park on the south end of the key. Then they will swing around and place sand along the beach in Sarasota County, to just beyond Blind Pass Beach, said Charlotte County project manager Matthew Logan.
Charlotte County’s permitting calls for the project to be completed by May 1, the start of the sea turtle nesting season. However, state permitting does allow the county to place sand along the Knight and Don Pedro islands shorelines after May 1.
The restoration of the Gulf shoreline is critical. For years, Gulf front properties along North Beach Road have sustained significant erosion. Other places along Manasota Key, especially from Englewood Beach south to Stump Pass Beach, have seen periodic erosion, but they’ve been spared of the severe erosion seen elsewhere on the key.
“It’s been fine,” said Mark Timchula, better known as “The Beach Guy” for his umbrellas and chair rentals at Englewood Beach. “The beach is just right for the amount of parking. More beach will need more parking.”
Some Gulf-front property owners, like those along Shoreview Drive, will be skipped over since they did not sign the necessary easements the counties needed to establish erosion control lines at the existing mean high water line.
The lines establish where sand must be deposited to restore eroded shoreline to its original conditions. Also, the county cannot work on private properties without the signed easements in hand.
The entire project is expected to cost $21.3 million. With Charlotte and Sarasota counties working together, the project is receiving $12.65 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Agency’s Beach Management Funding Program.
Charlotte County will contribute $2 million annually, while property owners on Sandpiper and Manasota Key — property owners west of the Tom Adams Bridge, north to the Sarasota-Charlotte county line and south to the Stump Pass Beach State Park — will pay an annual set assessment into a special taxing unit. Those closest to and fronting the Gulf pay additional fees based upon a prescribed formula.
Sarasota County is still mapping out its long-term funding strategies. However, at their Dec. 10 meeting, Sarasota County commissioners authorized initial funding. Creation of a special taxing unit to assess the property owners is underway but has not been finalized yet, county spokeswoman Brianne Grant said Thursday.
For more information about the beach restoration, visit “Project Status” on Charlotte County’s web site, www.charlottecountyfl.gov.