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Longboat Key Considers Options in Keeping Island Canals Open

Juan Florensa

Posted on October 20, 2016

By Terry O?Connor,

Canal dredging dominated discussion Monday at the Longboat Key Commission workshop in Town Hall.

Taylor Engineering Inc. of Sarasota reported a moderate need for the first town dredging project since 2003 after inventorying 91 navigable canals covering almost 28 miles. The inventory for the original dredging project covered only 53 canals 13 years ago.

Estimated costs for the new project ranged from $2.5 million to $6 million depending on options chosen.

“In general, things are not bad,” said Cliff Truitt, chief engineer for Taylor Engineering Inc. of Sarasota., in a report to the Longboat Key Commission work session Monday afternoon. “If you live in an area where there’s less than 2 feet of water at low tide, you think things are bad.”

Sea oats, sea grasses and sea turtles are permitting challenges, Truitt said, particularly on the north end of the island. Yet sea grass dredging has been done with mitigation, Truitt said.

Juan Florensa, Longboat Key Utilities Department director, said sea grass mitigation was required during the 2003 dredging project.

The issue will take some study and Longboat Key officials say they believe they have some time.

“We are not now in a canal crisis situation,” said Vice Mayor Terry Gans.

Next steps:

• Refine costs.

• Locate potential dredging material transfer sites, which drives costs significantly.

• Follow up on resources such as sea grass, sea turtles, sea oats and oysters.

• Policy direction for Town Manager David Bullock.

• Stakeholder and funding scenarios.

• Develop project design.


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