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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

County applies for emergency beach renourishment

Manatee County officials have told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that they intend to file an application for emergency beach renourishment of Anna Maria Island following the loss of beach from the four hurricanes that struck Florida in August and September.

"We've communicated our intent to apply and our eligibility," said Manatee County Ecosystems Manager Charlie Hunsicker. "We've already done our study and have determined that between 130,000 and 300,000 cubic yards of sand were lost this past summer. Now, all we can do is wait on a response from the corps."

The USACE is waiting on an assessment report on the Island from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.

The USACE has pledged $2 million toward emergency beach renourishment on the Island if the application is approved, Hunsicker noted, all at no cost to the county if the project can be done for that figure or less.

But the news is not all that good for Island homeowners who opted out of the 2002 beach renourishment project. The only way they can get into this one, said Hunsicker, is if they agree to fund their portion of the cost of the dredge that would pull the sand onto the beach. He said he could not yet give estimates on what that amount would be.

"We don't have an estimate of costs yet," he said.

Without emergency beach renourishment, the Island would have to wait another five or six years before the next scheduled project, Hunsicker said. The emergency project could begin within 12 to 24 months, but that's only a preliminary estimate, according to Hunsicker.

Vital beach renourishment meeting set Dec. 2
Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn said, "It's as if the stars, moon and planets are coming together at the same time," to make beach renourishment a reality for desperate homeowners in Anna Maria.

The mayor said she will host a town hall meeting for North Shore Drive gulffront property owners and all other interested parties 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss the circumstances of the proposal to allow them to join the Island's renourishment project.

She said "all the rules and regulations are coming together to allow an individual property to obtain a quit claim deed to reclaim a portion of the beachfront they lost as a result of the hurricane damage.

"This process allows them to reclaim 'X' numbers of feet that are underwater, and it allows the property owner to renourish that portion of the beach and replace the sand on that beach. Because of this, and because the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] will be redoing the Island's beaches, the property owners can take advantage of that opportunity to restore their beach."

She said a significant portion of the homeowner's by FEMA, the state and federal government. "For instance," she said, "if they are allowed to reclaim 30 feet, they will pay pennies on the dollar because they won't have to pay for the dredging."

The issue - or the problem - is that all the paperwork has to be submitted prior to but no later than close of business Jan. 15.

And nothing - no applications - can occur in the process until the meeting Dec. 2.

The mayor emphasized that there will be no cost to the city, but "we have to assist in the paperwork."

For more information, call city hall at 708-6130.

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