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Date of Issue: April 29, 2009

DEP ready to reconsider Anna Maria bayfront

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection believes Anna Maria’s northeast coastal shoreline from Bean Point to the Rod & Reel Pier “may now be directly affected by wave activity from the Gulf of Mexico” and may be reevaluated “for funding eligibility.”

In a letter to Manatee County, Catherine Florko of the DEP said her office will reevaluate the shoreline for eligibility for beach renourishment funds under the Florida Beach Erosion Control Program at the request of state Rep. Bill Galvano of Bradenton.

The DEP previously maintained that the shoreline in this area is on an inland waterway and not eligible for beach renourishment, Florko said in the letter. However, the submergence of Passage Key is allowing waves from the Gulf of Mexico to affect the shoreline.

That marks a 180-degree change in the DEP’s opinion, but before the DEP reevaluates the affected coastline, Florko said she needs confirmation from the county that it wants the reevaluation.

If the county wants the reevaluation, Florko said she needs documentation supporting the claim that the shoreline is directly affected by the Gulf of Mexico, and in need of beach renourishment or other erosion-control measures.

 Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford was delighted that the DEP would reevaluate the shoreline.

“I’m very pleased this is happening. This is the only hope we’ve ever had in all the years of trying to get that area renourished with state funds. I’m hopeful this will help. At least, it’s a start,” she said.

The city will provide Manatee County Natural Resources Department director Charlie Hunsicker and the DEP with all possible assistance, she pledged.

The county’s January 2007 feasibility study of the Anna Maria shoreline recommended restoration with erosion-control structures, such as T-head groins.

Hunsicker said he would send whatever information and documentation the DEP needs to change the designation.

“It’s been a long time coming. I just hope this is successful. We’re definitely going to work with the DEP to get this area included in the next beach renourishment,” he said.

That project is scheduled to start in 2012-13 at a cost of about $16 million, not including the northeast Anna Maria shoreline, Hunsicker said.

Joan Dickinson of North Shore Drive has been trying for years to have the beach at her house and at her neighbors included in renourishment.

“I have to thank the mayor. She really stepped up and did her best to get someone to look at this shoreline. I’m optimistic,” Dickinson said.

Barford said she contacted Galvano and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) last year asking for assistance in getting the DEP to consider the shoreline as part of the Gulf of Mexico, not an inland waterway.

“I’m grateful Bill [Galvano] got the ball rolling. Let’s keep our fingers crossed,” she said.

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