Longboat voters support $34.5 million beach

Longboat Key voters in both Manatee and Sarasota County overwhelmingly voted to support a $34.5 million beach renourishment plan last week. 

The decision on Longboat is broken into two voting districts with voters owning property on the Gulf side of Gulf of Mexico Drive in what is called District A and those on the bay side are in District B. Both sides of the dividing line voted in support of the beach plan. In Sarasota County on the Gulf side, 544 voted for the proposal and 94 against it. On the bay side in Sarasota County, 833 voted for the plan and 260 against.

Manatee County voters were slightly less supportive, with Gulf side residents voting 203 in support of the beach plan and 55 against. Manatee County bay side voters voted 406 in support and 222 against the plan.

What the vote allows is the Town to issue bonds to pay for the renourishment project. Those living in District A on the Gulf will be assessed to pay 80 percent of the bond issuance cost and those on the bay side will pay the remaining 20 percent. The split is an historical ratio that the commission adopted to recognize the relative value of the beach based on owners’ proximity to the Gulf side waterfront. The policy of the town bases its value also on both beach protection and the recreational amenity that are both intrinsic to the Gulf shoreline.

The overall beach project includes $10 million for the installation of five rock groins that will be situated on the north end of Longboat Key. The Town’s Engineer, Olson and Associates, has recommended the groins to stem the erosion that is most vigorous from North Shore Drive to Beer Can Island.

The groins will also be partially funded with at least $2.5 million from Manatee County.

The rest of the money will be spent on sand to bring the shoreline to the adopted profile. This will entail a large-scale renourishment project that is due to commence in 2022.

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