Manasota Key Fl (Storch Report) — Consultants to Charlotte County have diagnosed Manasota Key, a barrier reef on the Southwest coast of Florida, with ‘Chronic Erosion,’ sounding like a medical diagnosis with a prognosis that is terminal, unless something is done to turn it around.
I seriously question the diagnosis, least of all the prognosis, nor the solution.
There is always someone that wants to do something to challenge nature, we need not look far from here to the Florida Everglades where the Army Corps of Engineers are and have been undoing today their blunder of yesterday by returning this estuary to what it once naturally was, with extraordinary taxpayer cost.
There is always a motive behind what is done, and more often than not it is money. In the case of the Everglades, it was the Sugar industry’s motive for profit.
The condition on Manasota key as described by Coastal Engineering Consultants, a for-profit organization hired by Charlotte County, and reported by the Englewood Sun, a local newspaper here, is a ‘deficit of sand in the system.’
According to the consultants participating in a public meeting on October 1, with at least three Charlotte County Commissioners present and a handful of members of the public, the erosion wave of sand is moving south.
The consultant’s report says there is a Tamiami limestone hard bottom north of the Englewood public beach. These hard rock bottoms are considered valuable habitat for sponges, fish, and other sea life.
They say in the past there were pockets of hard-bottom habitats, which would be covered and uncovered by sand.
To correct the perceived situation would require more than 6 acres of artificial reefs offshore.
Consultants were quoted as saying, “I don’t think there’s sand that will move in and cover this area again,” they said. “I think you are going to see additional hard bottoms being exposed.”
The estimated cost to allegedly correct the problem 4 years from now is projected to be between $24 to $38 million.
Note the number of qualifiers of “I think” in the consultants’ quotes — which basically says they don’t know any more than the Army Corps of Engineers knew about the Everglades.
I had sources at this meeting and they reported to me information that was not reported in the Sun.
The County doesn’t know exactly where the money would come from, for such a beach renourishment. They speculate there would be Federal funding, State funding, County funding, resident support and significant beachfront owners’ contribution in annual taxes.
It would require a minimum of 80% community support, with the proviso that the renourished beaches would all be public, requiring public street parking on the key and easement access to the beach, all of which would be acquired from property owners on the Gulf side of the Key.
All of this for the County’s motives projecting a long-range master plan of increasing tourism to Manasota Key, changing the character of the barrier reef, and thus providing an increase in dollars to the coffers of the County.
For some reason in the reporting process by the local media, there was no mention of what was said at the meeting that it is being proposed that beach front property owners would be required to pay $1,000 for every 10 feet of beach frontage, in effect doubling their taxes in perpetuity for a proposed renourishment project that would take place every eight years.
This proposal would devalue beach property more than the loss of the beach erosion.
The bottom-line would be money for the coffers of the County, with virtually no benefit to residents, other than extraordinary cost to beach-front owners.
Residents on Manasota Key didn’t move here because they wanted to live on Longboat or Siesta Key, they sought out the solitude, the rural and sleepy character and naturalism of the Key and not to have it turned into what politicians perceived it now to be a potential cash cow.
However, let’s deal with the practicality and common sense of sand.
I have been living on Manasota Key for nearly 30 years. I own an acre of land on the Key north of the Englewood Beach in Charlotte County — the very area in question — with a house feet from a rip-rap (rock) and the sea that laps against it.
I have witnessed the sand leave the southern portion of the Key toward Stump Pass and houses topple into the sea. Houses just south of the public beach once were in peril, now have a wide span of sand, while the houses lost have been replaced and the beach is wider than before.
As a boater, I have witnessed Stump Pass inlet close up as sand moved south toward Palm Island, now there are plans for a jetty on the north end of the pass to stop this erosion. Good luck, it didn’t work at the Venice jetty inlet, all of which is north of the Key.
At the purchase of my property, there was a rip-rap on the beach front of my property, a signal of Byer beware because there had been previous erosion, which I was aware of.
For more than 26 years, we had a beach and it varied in size. Only in the past 2 years has the Gulf been lapping on our rip-rap.
North of us is the city of Venice and the beach from there to here is contiguous. They have two jetty’s on the north and south of the island and these jetty’s have done little to protect their beach from sand erosion to the south. So much for the jetty at Stump Pass.
Venice has a long term beach renourishment program, taking sand off the shores of Manasota Key, most recently this year which I have been observing directly off the shores of my home.
Could the sand they are taking from our shores for theirs, be affecting our beach erosion and those hard rock limestone bottoms?
I might remind those considering messing with nature, in particular, erosion and those consultants that qualify their remarks with ‘I think,’ it has been proven that the solution of correction has not worked, for the most part, on a global basis.
Furthermore, there is always a motive behind a $38 million project, and it is not just the project’s profit which benefits outside Consultants who are selling the deal, it is the County proposing the deal, none of which benefits the homeowner, nor does it preserve the character of the Key.
Knowing the demographics of the Key and the Englewood community, the support for this project will be nil to none.
Many moons ago the Calusa Indians vacationed on the Key from the mainland, evidenced by burial grounds found on the north end of the Key in recent times, and I would suggest the sands of time were drifting hither and yon then, as they are today and will tomorrow on the beaches of Manasota Key.