ENGLEWOOD — Steve Gardiner is ready to take the helm as president of the all-volunteer Englewood Beach Waterfest board.

Sectators are expected to enjoy the fifth-annual high-speed powerboat racing for the Offshore Powerboat Association World Championship competitions, set for the weekend of Nov. 23-24 at Englewood Beach.

This year, however, Waterfest events will have to navigate Charlotte County’s multimillion dollar Manasota Key beach restoration project, which is also set to begin in November.

Permits for the beach project are limited from November to the end of April, which is outside of the May 1-Oct. 31 sea turtle nesting season.

County Public Works officials are committed to ensure the beach restoration effort will not interfere with Waterfest.

“The contract for the beach renourishment project will be written as such that no work or equipment will interfere with the boat races,” Public Works spokeswoman Tracy Doherty said in an email to the Sun Friday.

“In the coordinating efforts, Waterfest organizers provided the county a map of the areas that will be utilized by the boat races,” she said. “These areas are not to be used for the beach renourishment project during the time of the boat races.”

County staff began meeting Thursday to come up with a workable solution. The beach project, however, cannot close down for the two days of boat racing without the county paying a price.

Michael Poff, president of Coastal Engineering Consultants, the firm overseeing the beach restoration project, told the South Manasota/Sandpiper Association it could add another $300,000 or more to what’s already estimated to cost $21 million, according to the county’s website.

Poff also suggested the dredging crew was expected to use the public beach as its staging area.

While Gardiner has to contend with man-made complications, last year, Waterfest had to deal with the toxic red tide that plagued Southwest Florida for the summer and into the fall. Considering the conditions, Waterfest did well, Schroeder suggested.

Waterfest organizers had hoped to see 40,000 spectators, but the number closer to 30,000. And Waterfest was able to keep its promise by being able to donate $25,000 for eight charities, Schroeder said.

Like the previous years, Waterfest’s success depends upon sponsors, volunteers and community support. To learn more or to sign up as a sponsor or volunteer, visit englewoodbeachwaterfest.com.

Waterfest will bring back its Dearborn Street block party on Nov. 22, the family conservation center, VIP tent, other entertainment and activities during the racing events.


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