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Dredging planned to save Greer Island

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Last Monday night’s meeting sounded like a scene out of Exodus with a wrathful and vengeful Yahweh ready to cast a reign of terror on the north end of Longboat Key. Snakes. Mosquitoes. Dead mangroves. Salination. Loss of tourism.

These will be the likely consequences say Longboat Key residents if the town does not act quickly to dredge the inlet at Greer Island. The small bayou is quickly sealing off with sand that has accumulated beneath Longboat Pass bridge and the entire tidal ecosystem is under threat.

More than a dozen residents spoke to the issue and implored the town to dredge the area as part of its upcoming canal overall island-wide canal dredging project. The meeting was held to discuss with town hired engineers, what canals on Longboat Key need to be dredged in order to keep them navigable and at what cost.

In total, 16 Longboat canals are considered “priority canals” and town engineer Cliff Truitt and Jenna Phillips of Taylor Engineering said about 20,000 cubic yards of sand must be removed at a cost of up to $1 million plus an additional $200,000 for design and engineering.

But it was the closing in of the lagoon along North Shore Road that brought the residents to the podium. One resident submitted a statement of concern representing 40 homeowners that signed a statement and do not want, “North Longboat Cove to be sealed off and become a salt marsh and never be fixed.”

It was added that the situation was urgent and should be addressed immediately.

Resident after resident spoke during the Public to be Heard and explained to the town commission that dredging the cove will maintain the ecosystem, provide recreational experiences for residents and visitors and maintain higher property values and therefore taxes.

Other residents said that there were no fish in the cove due to the increasing sedimentation.

Resident Herman Kreugle summed it up in saying, “There is a present crisis at Greer Island, the homes on Gulf Road are in imminent danger from a Gulf surge during a hurricane. Waters broke through Greer Island during a recent storm and in a hurricane, a breech and a new inlet through Greer Island is possible.”

Another man spoke of the dying off of the mangroves and said the fact that Longboat does not have a terminal groin to protect Greer Island and retain sand from entering the inlet is causing the decimation of the mangrove forest by salinity and washovers. He said that when that happens, the town could be facing direct Gulf wave action all the way to Sarasota Bay.

The engineers broke the proposed canal dredging plan into maintaining the 16 priority canals as well as Canal 1A, which connects Sarasota Bay to the Lagoon at Greer Island, also known as North Longboat Cove. The other part of the project was referred to as the Greer Island Beneficial Use Project, which would dredge the lagoon at Greer Island and place the spoil on the land between the lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico. That additional project, will likely cost between $400,000 and $1 million with an additional $150,000 for design and engineering.

The town commission decided to move forward with both projects with a goal of commencing the work in the summer of 2018.

Town Manager Dave Bullock and the engineers said the dredging of the lagoon project might take longer due to increased complexity or constraints in procuring the necessary permits.

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