CLEARWATER – Due to a shortage of dredging equipment, scheduled beach nourishment projects for Treasure Island and Long Key have been delayed.
Pinellas County Coastal Manager Andy Squires told members of the Barrier Island Governmental Council Aug. 28 that work may not begin until next spring. It was previously hoped the projects would be done later this fall.
More details will be known in the next few weeks.
Squires said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to award a bid Sept. 13.
“Once they award it, the contractor has 10 days to submit a schedule,” he said. “So it looks like by the third week of September we’ll know what their schedule is.”
Squires said there have been changes because of the dozen projects across Florida that the Army Corps is trying to complete due to the storms last summer.
“There’s a shortage of dredges,” said Squires. “Several of the dredging companies originally had a May 1 completion date for the project. But it was strongly suggested by the Corps to extend that to Sept. 30, 2014. Otherwise we may not get a bid or the bids would be extremely high.
“So, we don’t know what their schedule is going to be,” Squires added. “There’s a good chance it won’t start until next spring.
“On the other side, we’ve been monitoring the beaches and they’ve been doing rather well. So if we don’t have any bad storms in the meantime, I think we’ll be OK.”
Restore Act funds
Pinellas County officials are considering ways to spend about $22 million it will receive as part of a civil lawsuit settlement through the Restore Act and the U.S. Clean Water Act.
Altogether, Squires said Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas would receive about $15 billion in fines related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“There are three main pots of funds that will be coming to Pinellas County,” said Squires. “There’s one pot that will be coming directly to Pinellas County – not through the governor and not through a federal council.”
Squires said he has been tasked with developing a plan for the county to come up with a set of projects to implement when the money becomes available. He said the county doesn’t know when that will be.
“So I’ve been talking with county administration and our commissioners regarding a process to basically come up with a plan and the direction I’ve been given is to develop a county-wide advisory committee of maybe seven individuals,” Squires said.
He said it would consist of a BIG-C rep and perhaps a couple from the cities, the MPO and possibly staff from a couple of agencies.
“So I’m asking the BIG-C if they would like to recommend a representative that I can move forward to administration for approval,” Squires said.
He said it would be a four to six-month process with three to five meetings. He said projects selected must help the ecosystem or the economy.
Treasure Island Mayor Bob Minning, who is chairman of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and is familiar with the Restore Act, was later selected as the BIG-C rep.
Squires said Pinellas County would receive its share over a 10- to 15-year period, which means “you’re looking at about $1.5 million to $2 million per year.”
“It sounds like a lot of money but when you think about it, it won’t pay for undergrounding (of utilities) on Gulf Boulevard,” said BIG-C president and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.