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Decades-long issue of where to put material dredged from Anclote River resurfaces

Posted on March 27, 2024

The city is grappling with a problem that has gone on for more than three decades: Where does it put material dredged from the Anclote River, and can the city afford to buy its own spoil site?

The city is currently leasing a property on L&R Industrial Boulevard from Anclote Properties, the same area it used when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the river in 1995.

During the March 19 City Commission meeting, Project Administration Department Director Bob Robertson told officials the good news is “dredging work is finally complete in the Anclote River, with respect to the federal channel and the city turning basin. Now we’re moving into the demobilization and the restoration phase of the project.”

Robertson informed officials that staff is requesting an extension to its spoil site lease “to allow time for site restoration, which is the responsibility of the city after dredging activities are completed. The property owner has agreed to amend the existing lease agreement through September 30, 2024.”

He said that as the local sponsor of the dredging, the city is responsible for securing a storage site for sediment from the river. The city pays $8,116 a month to rent the spoil site.

The request for an extension rekindled a 30-year-old question: Why doesn’t the city have its own spoil site, rather than leasing one every time the river is dredged?

City Manager Mark LeCouris told commissioners while staff is working on a long-term fix, it came up with a plan to solve a short-term concern, “so the city won’t have 600 dump trucks coming through town” removing the dredged material.

Robertson said the board had previously stated concerns about trucking material through town.

Former Vice Mayor Craig Lunt told commissioners it’s time the city considered purchasing its own spoil site. He said the city should “seriously consider” further negotiations with the Stamas Group, owners of the property, to get the site.

“If we don’t get it now — trust me, I’ve looked — there’s not too many sites that would fit this and none as adequately,” Lunt said. “We’ve done the turning basin and the federal channel. We still have to do all the other auxiliary channels, and ten years from now we’re going to have to dredge that channel again. It’s a long-term commitment, but I think it’s one that’s best for the city,” he said.

Mayor Costa Vatikiotis agreed. “You’re absolutely right,” he said. “It’s probably a piece of property we should have bought a long time ago, when this thing first came up.”

Vatikiotis said the city talked to the Stamas family about buying the site. The city’s appraisal came in at $3.5 million, but the family was asking for $5.5 million.

“I did get a call from Mr. Stamas maybe a month or two ago, asking if the city’s position has changed,” the mayor said. “I told him at $5.5 million we just need to look for some other options. If the commission wants to negotiate further and see if he’ll come off that $5.5 million, I don’t think they’re going to get down to $3.5 million, which is what the property is worth.”

He said LeCouris is talking to others about other potential sites.

Vatikiotis noted the city doesn’t need the Stamas site’s entire 14 acres, but the family probably won’t split up the property. He added it would also be a perfect location for Project Hope and the Shepherd Center. “It’s an ideal site, it’s just an expensive site,” he said.

Meanwhile, with Commissioners unanimously voting to extend its current lease, LeCouris said city staff will continue to search for chunks of land where it would be possible to place dredged material.


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