Posted on July 18, 2022
PORT RICHEY — The city is considering whether to shift money from a long-planned dredging project to the ongoing shoreline restoration and redevelopment in the Cotee River Landing area.
Sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency on June 28, the City Council directed staff to review with the county if it is feasible to amend its current Multiyear Implementation Plan, which had included a proposal to spend $667,000 to dredge areas of the Pithlachascotee River and Miller’s Bayou.
Bids on that project to improve boating on the two channels were received in early 2021, but the project hasn’t been approved yet and no progress has been made.
The Multiyear Implementation Plan is tied to Restore Act funds. The act dedicates fines paid in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands and the economies of the Gulf Coast region.
City Manager John Dudte said until the dredging project is approved, “I’m not going to give a notice to proceed if I don’t know that I’m getting the money back in reimbursement. A bid that was received a year and a half ago probably is not a viable bid now.”
Dudte gave reasons such as COVID, inflation, and issues with supply chains as points that would likely increase the cost to dredge, making the initial bid moot.
The other CRA project is the Cotee River Landing project, which is underway with design work in progress.
“We’re talking about two separate projects, two separate pots of money,” Dudte explained. “The idea of dredging is tied to Restore Act funds, a reimbursement grant in which the city or the county spends money and spends it in a way that’s been approved in the multiyear plan, and then requests reimbursement from Treasury.”
The CRA’s thought, according to Dudte, was whether the Restore Act money the city could spend on dredging and shoreline enhancement would be better spent if dredging was taken out of the multiyear plan and focused on shoreline restoration and redevelopment instead.
The Restore Act portion of the project that talks about shoreline development, park redevelopment or enhancement is something the CRA is already doing in the Cotee River Landing area with CRA money. Dudte said that it made sense to the council if it could get more money for redevelopment to accomplish the same goal.
“There’s $4-5 million in work to be done for restoration of streets, sidewalks, golf cart paths, park renovation, lighting, hardscape, landscape, and street reconfiguring,” Dudte said. “The engineering and design concepts totaled up to a lot more money than what we have.”
The CRA asked city staff to amend the multiyear plan to focus all of its efforts on shoreline restoration and community redevelopment along shoreline area. Once the amendment is written, the city will send it to the county for review where it could be accepted, rejected, or the city could be asked to make modifications.