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Bullock addresses Longboat beach erosion

Dave Bullock

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Many who come to Longboat Key make the executive decision of where to eat dinner or what show to attend in Sarasota later in the evening. For Town Manager Dave Bullock the menu of choices and what must be accomplished is far less glamorous.

Currently, Bullock has on his plate the joy of dealing with thousands of dead fish due to red tide in the canals. He must also keep residents both apprised as well as placated as the Gulf of Mexico continues to erode the south end of the Key and he must also come up with a method the town commission find acceptable and ultimately the public will vote upon to underground the utility lines in the neighborhoods of Longboat Key.  Add to this that the Assistant Town Manager, his right hand person, left last month for a job in Lakewood Ranch leaving a vacancy that Bullock must fill.

Longboat Key News spoke with the Town Manager about these very topics on Friday afternoon. Here’s what he had to say:

 

What is the status of the three beach projects that are planned on the south, the middle and the north end of Longboat Key?

The permits for the truck haul for Mid-Key are in hand.  The bids will go out in two weeks and we plan to start hauling sand in early April.  As for the South end of the Key, we heard a rumor that there may be positive movement in the federal permit approval for New Pass.  Getting the permit is the hardest part of the job.  Each of the three projects — the South, the North and the Mid-Key projects — will receive about 200,000 cubic yards apiece.

 

How much sand is going to be placed mid Key?

About 200,000 cubic yards — all of it hauled by truck.

 

How much has the town budgeted for the truck hauled 200,000 cubic yards?

$14.5 million for truck hauling.  Although we are looking for 200,000 cubic yards, we are planning to buy as much sand as we can afford with that amount of money.

 

 The Bay Isles Association has denied the Town the ability to use its property to access the beach for the truck haul. How has this impacted the project and what is the remedy?

Correct; Bay Isles will not let us have access. The southern section of the renourishment will have to be accessed through Colony, with which we have an agreement. It simply adds to the distance; that is why the Bay Isles option made sense. We will have access mid key near Bayport.

 

 How much sand can a truck on the road hold?

A typical dump truck holds 15 yards.

 

That means if we get 200,000 yards and a truck holds 15 yards, we will have more than 13,000 trucks traveling to our beach dumping sand during the course of this operation. Is that correct?

There will be a lot of trucks. That is why we will attempt this starting in April until Thanksgiving so we will not impede traffic. There will be areas of the beach closed off as we are dumping and spreading the sand.

 

What area of Longboat Key are you most concerned about when it comes to erosion right now?

I’m worried about the south end in particular and the rapid loss of sand dunes in three months on the beach in front of Sanctuary and L’Ambiance and the Longboat Key Club.

 

What is the status of getting the permits for the south-end sand project?

We are waiting on the federal permits. As soon as we get that permit or a draft permit, we will bid it. We will want them to start as soon as possible. The north and south end projects are budgeted in the $3 to $4 million range for each.

 

 So if we are spending about $14 million for the mid Key and $3 million to $4 million for the north end and another $3 million to $4 million on the south end, is it not more cost effective to go offshore for sand and use a barge like the large-scale renourishments we used to do?

There is not the sand out there that we once thought there was. In 2013 we bid it out and the costs were enormous. We asked them for sand out of supposed sources and we were told it was not high quality and not of the desired volume. So we have to go through a sand search. We have to identify areas. An offshore sand source is always cheaper until distance makes it not viable compared to trucking. We have to do the work and find a source and we will likely use Olsen Engineering and they will sub it out and they will take samples.

 

 Will we start that sand search project soon?

In 2016 we will spend about $300,000 for a sand search.  If we find a spot, we then permit it and the quantity we would dredge. Realize, we are not just in the sand business, but also in the beach sand business. It has to have a certain grain size and color that is attractive. Sand is our number one infrastructure project.

 

The commission asked you and the town attorney and staff to come up with a funding methodology to bury the neighborhood utility lines on Longboat Key. Where does that stand?

We have been working on it steadily. We had a conference call this week and we will be ready to discuss it at the December 7 meeting.  If the Commission approves the methodology we come up with we can hold a special meeting after the Town Workshop on December 14 and then a final vote of an ordinance for a ballot question on January 4. That timeframe would allow a referendum question for voters on March 15 during our election.

 

 Are you finding that it is possible to come up with a method that allocates some of the cost to every parcel owner for burying the remaining utility lines in the neighborhoods?

Yes.

 

 And to be legally justifiable the methodology must find an objective benefit for every property owner to have power lines buried on properties other than their own in neighborhoods quite a distance is that correct?

Yes. But the majority of the cost will still fall on properties that currently are not undergrounded and would benefit the most.

 

Where do you stand in your search for an Assistant Town Manager?

I spoke with two candidates this week and will interview two next week.

 

Were these formal applicants, or people you called from your past or you have met in your work?

These are folks as a result of networking.

 

What is your timeframe for making a choice?

To have a decision by the end of the year.  There is a lot that goes into this selection. What gets the person through the door is significant experience in public management — someone who understands the work and knows public safety and finance from the management side. Then what I look for is how they connect with the community. Do they have other aspirations; this might be a stepping-stone.

 

What will you pay for the position of Assistant Town Manager?

Between $100,000 and $120,000.  That is what the former Assistant earned.

 

What will be the first job for the new hire?

They will get right into projects; no doubt about it.

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