ENGLEWOOD — Manasota Key will see the replenishing of its Gulf shoreline.

Sarasota County is moving ahead with Charlotte County on a joint project to place dredged sand along the Gulf shoreline of Manasota Key from north of the Sarasota-Charlotte county line to Blind Pass Beach State Park.

Mobilization of dredging equipment could begin as early as December. Actual sand should be on the beach early next year.

Sarasota County commissioners needed to decide Tuesday whether or not to extend the renourishment project even further, north of the public beach at Blind Pass Park. Commissioners had to determine how they wanted to proceed and how far north of the public beach.

Erosion freckled the shallows along Manasota Key with bare hard limestone bottom that the state deems as critical habitat for sponges and other sea life. As Charlotte has already learned, it is expensive — up to $5 million — to replace 4.25 acres, a 5,000 feet long strip of hard bottom, 200 feet offshore in 10 feet of water.

North of Blind Pass Beach, more so than Charlotte, the shallows are extremely riddled with hard bottom, 20 acres or more.

That’s more acreage than state and federal permitting agencies would ever allow to be covered with sand and far more expensive than what Sarasota County can afford, according to Coastal Engineering Consultants president Michael Poff whose firm is overseeing the project for both counties.

Commissioners decided to extend the project six houses north of Blind Pass at an added expense of $1.59 million to the project, bringing the total cost to $10.2 million.

Sarasota will pay 45% of the project with its tourist development sales tax, 20% through a property taxing unit of the affected Gulf-front property owners, and the remaining 35% with anticipated state funding.

Separately, up to the 7200 block of Manasota Key Road where homeowners suffer from critical erosion, commissioners agreed the county will design, permit and determine the costs for that additional project, one that would truck in sand and create a 30-foot wide beach. That process could take 24 months or more to complete, Poff said.

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