TREASURE ISLAND — A plan by the city to replace its dilapidated seawall at Treasure Bay Golf and Tennis Center with a living shoreline has been approved and amended to include improving water quality in Boca Ciega Bay.

Assistant Public Works Director Stacy Boyles advised commissioners the “city was notified that additional funds were available in support of our project, specifically project elements that improve water quality to Boca Ciega Bay.”

City of Treasure Island logo

The proposed addendum to the project, approved by city commissioners at their Jan. 4 meeting, increases the funding provided by Tampa Bay Estuary Program by $28,875 and extends the timeline to better align with future potential grants.

TBEP will provide $202,099, Boyles said, and the city’s match will remain $193,832, with $10,577 being in-kind services.

The city entered into an agreement with the TBEP in June 2020 to complete a living shoreline and water quality improvement project at Treasure Bay. The project was slightly slowed down in hopes of getting additional funding from the state that would go toward remaining portions of the design and construction beyond the first 500 feet, which is funded in part by TBEP. That hope has now come to fruition.

The project, which has already included two community meetings, will be designed to restore the waterfront at the Golf and Tennis Center into a functional living shoreline. It will include public education, removing sections of seawall, installing seawall enhancement features, planting marsh grass, and improving the existing golf course ponds to enhance water quality prior to entering Boca Ciega Bay.

“I think it’s great that they think our program is that highly desirable that they are providing more funds for it. It’s just awesome that we can protect our environment through this living seawall,” Commissioner Deborah Toth said.

Commissioner Saleene Partridge noted “it’s definitely a cost-saving approach to what we needed to tackle, so that comes at a great time for us.”

In its current state, Treasure Bay is comprised of approximately 17 acres along Boca Ciega Bay, with 2,300 linear feet of dilapidated seawall along the northern and eastern boundaries.

Boyles told commissioners the multiyear project “will enhance the site’s resiliency by creating a living shoreline, restore the ecological function of the stormwater ponds, provide public education as it relates to sustainability, and add additional recreational opportunities to connect the community with the natural environment.”

While it includes the construction of a living shoreline along the northern side of the property, the eastern shoreline adjacent to a high wake zone of the Intracostal Waterway will be designed for construction under a future project. It will create a living seawall that can protect the shoreline from boat wakes, while providing ecological benefits, Boyles explained.

In addition, the golf course has two hydraulically connected water hazard ponds, the south of which drains directly into Boca Ciega Bay. The city would like to improve the water quality entering the bay by removing nutrient-laden sediment, installing vegetation and aeration within the ponds, she explained. Native plants will be used to absorb nutrients and create wildlife refuges, she advised.

Financial support from grants will allow Treasure Island to develop a design that restores the entire shoreline at the Treasure Bay facility, create habitat and enhance biodiversity via construction of the living shoreline.

The city will hold a public art contest to develop aesthetically pleasing signage to be paired with educational information about the benefits and design components of living shorelines.

“The overall plan will entail more than one design, depending on the needs of the north versus eastern area,” Boyles told commissioners, “which will provide waterfront residents and businesses the opportunity to assess alternative nature-based shoreline treatments such as living shorelines and living seawalls. “

The first phase will involve data collection, habitat restoration design and the production of 30% through 100% design plans and specifications.

Phase 2 consists of making space, up to 700 linear feet, within the ponds to install the native wetland vegetation. These wetland plantings will employ volunteers from the community to provide educational opportunities. Any non-native vegetation will be removed prior to the installation of the native wetland plants.

The city’s matching cost of $193,832 will come from property tax revenue and stormwater utility fees.

The revised completion date for the first phase of the project is December, with the second phase scheduled for March 2024.