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Environmental dredging benefits community

Careful dredging brings benefits

Piedroba Marine Construction is an environmental dredging contractor, and the majority of our projects are funded by you, the taxpayer. Recent discussions on the Hernando Beach dredging project have provided us an excellent opportunity to present a contractor's perspective on the public sector of infrastructure development.

Dredging can benefit the public in many ways; it allows us to build and maintain ports, restore rivers, and build the coastal defenses that will protect us from the effects of climate change and hurricanes. In Florida, dredging increases commerce, spurs environmental restoration and sustains the growth of the tourist attractions that drive our economy. Dredged material can often be recycled for beach nourishment, levee construction and even land reclamation.

We are committed to finding a balance between protecting the environment, promoting economic development and operating a profitable business. We consistently seek the most innovative dredging and dewatering methods and have found ourselves successful in the environmental dredging market.

No two dredging projects are alike. Some projects are straightforward, especially when they involve direct pumping into a storage area. Projects that lack such an area, like Hernando Beach, are considerably more challenging. These projects will typically require a dewatering component that greatly increases costs.

In Holmes Beach, we successfully introduced a rapid dewatering system to a project where a storage area was unavailable. Holmes Beach was a successful application of a hydro-cyclonic dewatering system. By using this system, we avoided costly transportation and fees for landfill disposal. Eventually, we obtained approval from the Department of Environmental Protection to use the dredged sand for beach fill on Anna Maria Island. The dewatering system allowed us to finish months ahead of the original schedule.

The Hernando Beach dredging project requires a sophisticated approach to ensure environmental protection. Our investigation of the subsurface soils in Hernando Beach indicates a need for additional treatment systems beyond hydro-cyclonic dewatering. As taxpayers ourselves, we sympathize with the public discussion on whether the Hernando Beach dredging project still offers cost to reward benefit to the community. But the project will help the numerous home­owners on Florida's West Coast who have spent their life savings in order to own a waterfront property with a boat slip. Those who have fulfilled this dream suffer when they cannot use their boats due to sand buildup (shoaling) or water hazards.

In the past, as a subcontractor on a dredge/dewater project in Southern Shores, N.C., we experienced the potential difficulties that can arise when a community's dredging needs cannot be reconciled with the area's sensitive natural environment. The town of Southern Shores' canal system is recognized as a pristine fishery. The environmental agencies, in an effort to protect the canal system, imposed extremely strict turbidity controls to a level previously unknown in the industry. Fortunately, recent modifications to the permit conditions and the addition of a larger processing site have the project back on track, and it is destined for success.

We are committed to pursuing only projects that we can successfully perform. As an example, we recently submitted a letter of "no bid" for a $4.1 million canal dredge/dewater project in South Florida. We felt that the protection of the environment could not be guaranteed with the proposed design.

Dredging is a satisfying business. Our entire team, from top to bottom, loves working on the water, while creating value to Florida's marine communities. We take pride in the integrity of our mission and in finding a balance between infrastructure developments, environmental protection and running a successful business.

Luis Prieto y Muñoz, president, Piedroba Marine Construction

Leaders are right to allow more aid

The county commissioners' decision to approve the number of beds allowed at our Howell Avenue location will greatly affect, for the good, our homeless services and transitional programs. As we all are aware, the economy has had a terrible impact on our citizens. Many who were once productive citizens in our community are now unemployed and in many cases without a place to live. Such trauma lends itself to reactions of physical abuse, substance abuse, depression and other negative emotions and actions. Hope for them has diminished with each passing month. Families of the homeless are stretched financially and physically as they try to provide for them while still meeting their own responsibilities.

I do not view the commissioners' decision as a victory or a "win for our side." Those terms designate an adversarial tone that has never been a part of our thinking or actions. I rather view their decision as confirmation that our community has a serious need and that they are serious about making decisions, difficult decisions, to address the needs at hand.

Leadership is difficult, messy and not always understood by the people being led. Recognizing the need and taking steps to bring resources to bear on the need is what leaders are there to do. Addressing these people's need will positively affect the rest of the community. We may not see these results today, but in time we will and then the leaders' decisions will be viewed differently.

I see their approval of our application as placing greater responsibility on Jericho Road Ministries. We do not take this expansion lightly. Our commitment to the homeless and needy is serious business. Meeting needs and providing basic human resources of food, clothing and housing is the starting point from which people can reclaim their lives and their place in our community.

Difficult is the work of teaching and helping others regain self-sufficiency. The more people are able to take on their own responsibilities, meet their own needs and provide for their own family, the more our community improves and grows. Their success affects everyone in the community. Their productivity makes our lives better and makes our lives more productive. Jericho Road Ministries has much more to do, much more to be responsible for and much to be thankful to God for.

I see the neighbors at our Howell Avenue facility as friends. They may choose to see us differently, but we will treat them as friends. We will do everything in our power to meet our neighbors' needs. We will be kind, thoughtful, diligent, respectful and helpful. We will be good neighbors. We will live at peace with them and work to maintain the neighborhood and its peacefulness.

Thank you to our friends for your support that acknowledges our past work. Thank you for your support that allows us greater responsibility to meet the needs of you and all our neighbors. Thank you for this opportunity to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of people's lives, people who have no hope and see no help in reclaiming their lives and place within our community. May God continue to guide and provide for this ministry as we seek to serve the least and the lost among us.

Pastor Bruce Gimbel,

Jericho Road Ministries

Environmental dredging benefits community 11/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 20, 2010 11:30am]
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