Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

What a difference a dredge makes for Hernando Beach

It's no Sunshine Skyway bridge, no Gateway Arch, no Space Needle.

Even adjusted for scale — we're talking about a fairly small community, after all — the newly dredged Hernando Beach boat channel can't be considered a landmark.

It's not on land, for one thing, and the dredging hasn't left much of a mark. In fact, other than navigational markers and a slight variation in the water's shade — a darker gray-green in the deepest parts — the channel's not even visible.

Considering the epic time span (17 years), the large sum of money spent (roughly $14 million, with a more complete accounting on the way), and the Mount Rushmore of accumulated anxiety and finger-pointing, perhaps you were expecting something a little more magnificent, something more impressive than a 3-mile-long, 60-foot-wide, 6-foot-deep ditch.

On the bright side, the ditch — which an independent surveyor ruled to be "substantially complete" at the end of last month — is already proving very useful.

Michael Senker — no, not Sinker, darn it — owner of Thunder Party Boat Inc. in Hernando Beach, said he doesn't have to worry anymore about getting stranded with a load of clients during low tide; he no longer has to reschedule trips to make sure his main boat, which draws 3 feet, has enough water to get through.

It might allow more operations like his and for the expansion of the fleet of crabbers and shrimpers that works out of Hernando Beach.

It definitely improves safety for their crews and, even more so, for the people in little skiffs that had to dodge these big, commercial vessels in the narrow, boulder-littered predredge channel.

It now can accommodate wider, longer sailboats and cabin cruisers. And even if you think these are just toys for rich egomaniacs, you have to admit that these rich egomaniacs tend to spend a lot on houses near the Gulf of Mexico, which should do good things for the real estate market.

"I think this is going to make a great deal of difference," said Wanda Evans, the broker at Hernando Beach Realty.

And, though I'm not sure how to go about figuring this, I wouldn't be surprised if the dredge's long-term boost to property values brings in enough tax revenue to pay for the work.

The point is that the dredge long has been the main local example of everything that can go wrong with public works — delays, cost overruns, overreliance on well-paid consultants and engineers (that means you, Halcrow Inc.).

So now, maybe, we should look at what can go right when the public gets involved: more jobs and recreational opportunities, higher safety standards, increased overall community value.

Just a few months ago — before contractor BCPeabody started to make good progress on the dredge — I heard a lot of grumbling that the dredge wasn't worth it. Back then, when I first called it a "ditch'' in a column, I was even starting to think that way myself.

If the county couldn't meet the Jan. 1 deadline for a state grant that paid for part of the work, I thought we might just have to give up on the dredge.

When I went out to Hernando Beach on Wednesday and saw the dredge and the opportunities it creates, I was very glad we didn't.

What a difference a dredge makes for Hernando Beach 01/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. JFK's last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht


    It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents' home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined …

    President John F. Kennedy aboard the Sequoia in 1963 opening birthday presents. [Robert Knudsen | John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum]
  2. 1 in 4 Florida adults aren't registered to vote, according to non-partisan group


    TALLAHASSEE — Five million people in Florida who are eligible to vote aren't registered, according to a nationwide non-partisan group that helps improve the accuracy of state voter rolls.

    Voters line up in front of the Coliseum Ballroom in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. A non-partisan group estimates that more than a quarter of Florida's adult-age population isn't registered to vote. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win


    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.
  4. Navy parachutist dies during demonstration over Hudson River


    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a Navy Seal team member fell to his death Sunday after his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the Hudson River.

    Officials surround a U.S. Navy Seal's parachute that landed in a parking lot after the parachutist fell into the Hudson River when his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the river in Jersey City, N.J. The Navy said the parachutist was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. [Joe Shine | Jersey Journal via AP]
  5. As White House defends Jared Kushner, experts question his alleged back-channel move


    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration argued over the weekend that back-channel communications are acceptable in building dialogue with foreign governments, part of an effort to minimize fallout over White House adviser Jared Kushner's reported discussion about creating a secret conduit to the Kremlin at a Russian …

    President-elect Donald Trump embraces son in law Jared Kushner, as his daughter Ivanka Trump stands nearby, after his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. [Mark Wilson | Getty Images]