BY LIZA STROUT - Lee County and the Army Corps of Engineers are getting ready for the start of a new project to renourish the beaches of Gasparilla Island in September.
The work will start 100 yards south of Belcher Road, and Lee County will be responsible for the cost of the work that will reach from there to just north of South Beach Bar and Grille.
From there, north to 17th Street, the Army Corps of Engineers will be in charge. Bids are due in for the ACE project by Aug. 16. There has been discussion of pushing the date back by one week, according to Lee County Marine Services Operations Manager Steven Boutelle.
In reality, the ACE plan is a combination of two renourishment projects, Gasparilla Island and Ana Maria Island.
The combined cost of the projects is expected to be between $10 and $25 million, with Lee County estimates for the Gasparilla Island half at around $15 million.
After federal and state cost shares, Lee County will be spending just under $3.8 million.
According to the ACE plans (available online at fbo.gov by using the “Place of Performance” drop-down menu to Florida and searching for “Gasparilla”), “Work for both projects also includes, but is not limited to, beach tilling, construction/vibration controls and monitoring, turbidity monitoring, sea turtle trawl sweeping and relocation, endangered species observers and beach fill remediation.”
The Gasparilla Island renourishment project will be staged from the northernmost portion of Rangelight Park. For the duration of the project, a few of the parking spaces at Rangelight Park will be blocked, and equipment will be travelling to the beach from that area.
The renourishment will be a round-the-clock, seven-day-a-week operation.
On Thursday, Aug. 8, the Boca Grande Sea Turtle Conservancy swung into gear, having been given the alert and a contract to move any new sea turtle nests laid within the 65-day period before operations begin.
The sand to be pumped onto the beaches will be “borrowed” from an area just north of Boca Grande Pass in the Gulf of Mexico.
The renourishment is expected to leave the beaches between 17th Street and the south end of the island with anywhere from 75 to 230 feet of sand.
The last time the island’s beaches were renourished was in 2007, at a cost of $13 million.
That project stopped before the Lighthouse Park, though storms in the last few years have redeposited enough sand on the southernmost beach of Gasparilla Island that both of the rock groins placed by
FP&L to retain sand were completely buried. Proposed plans to relocate the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum were put aside.
The new renourishment is expected to be completed in March 2014.
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