Renourishment halted for season, but pipes remain
Pipes used for the beach renourishment project extend from 19th Street South in Bradenton Beach north to near the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach. Although the project has been suspended for at least two months and likely longer, the pipes and accompanying bulldozers remain on the beach. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Bulldozers, pipes and other equipment used by Goodloe Marine for the emergency beach renourishment project sat starkly naked on the sand in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach last week, unused and unmoved for the Christmas holiday week - and unloved by beachfront accommodation owners.
The project has been halted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a request from Goodloe so that beach renourishment does not occur during the winter tourist season and interfere with the Island's economic lifeline.
The project had been scheduled for completion Nov. 1, but bad weather forced a number of delays and renourishment had only reached 19th Street South in Bradenton Beach when the project was halted several weeks ago.
In the meantime, however, the equipment and pipes are still on the beach. The pipes extend along the beach from 19th Street South north to near the Manatee Public Beach in the 4000 block of Gulf Drive and some beachfront accommodations are losing business because of the unsightly view.
"People come to rent a unit with a Gulf view and they don't want to see pipes in front of their unit," said Marge Moran of Club Bamboo in Bradenton Beach. "They are not going to pay that price to see rusted pipes. It's hurting our business."
Efforts to reach Goodloe Marine to determine when the equipment might be removed were unsuccessful last week. A phone message at the company's Apollo Beach office said the firm would be closed until Jan. 3.
Rick Spadoni of Coastal Planning and Engineering, Manatee County's beach renourishment consulting firm, said he understood Goodloe was to begin removing its bulldozers and dismantling the pipes this week. The plan, he said, is to store most of the equipment in a fenced compound at Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach.
Unfortunately, no one has told either Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie or Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore what's going on.
"It's ridiculous," said Chappie.
"No one has said anything to me about the project being halted or removing the equipment. It's a bit disturbing not to let us know. I've had several complaints from motel owners about the equipment on the beach, but we've been left in the dark," said an irate Chappie.
"We need to get those pipes out of there as soon as possible, or we need compensation for the motel owners. In my opinion, there's no excuse not to have removed those pipes when the project halted. They just take off for two weeks and leave the equipment on the beach during the busy Christmas week. That's inexcusable."
Spadoni said he understood Goodloe would begin moving its equipment from the beach to the proposed storage location this week.
Whitmore said she'd heard nothing of the plan to store the equipment at the Manatee Public Beach, but was disturbed about the loss of parking spaces as happened when the restaurant facility there underwent renovations in 2004-05.
Manatee County Ecosystems Manager Charlie Hunsicker said Goodloe originally wanted to restart the project March 1, but Hunsicker has requested a May 1 date, the traditional end of the winter tourist season.
March 1 would have been at the height of the tourist season, Hunsicker told the Corps, and would likely create an "economic hardship" for Island beachfront accommodation owners, not to mention the pipes and equipment beachgoers would have to negotiate.
There's no guarantee the Corps will heed the suggestion, he said. Manatee County is only an "advisor" to the Corps because this beach renourishment project is federally funded, he noted.
However, added Hunsicker, "The Corps has been very accommodating to our concerns" during the entire renourishment project.
A Corps spokesperson said a decision will be made this week on when the project will resume.