State officials warned residents Thursday that any dissension over aplanned beach renourishment project could jeopardize state financing.
If everything goes as planned, the sand could begin being pumped onto the beach in Indian Shores as early as spring 1991. The plans are half complete and most of the permits have been issued. But officials said anything less than a united front could set the project back as much as five years.
"Hopefully, if we have some disagreements, we can take care of them in Pinellas County," state Rep. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, said. "I would hate to see us do anything locally that would jeopardize the funding that we have now going into the April session."
Jones spoke at an informational meeting at Indian Shores Town Hall and helped answer questions about beach rebuilding plans. Jones was joined by Jim Terry, the county's chief of coastal management, Kirby B. Green III of the state Department of Natural Resources and George Cretekos, administrative aide to U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-St.
Green reminded residents of a successful campaign by Redington Beach Mayor Ramona Updegraff three years ago. She is against breakwaters and lobbied Gov. Bob Martinez and the Cabinet to reject Indian Shores' original $1.7-million beach project.
Two years ago, County Administrator Fred Marquis sent a letter to Indian Shores Mayor Janet Hoppe, criticizing her proposal to renourish only a 3,000-foot strip instead of waiting to do the whole beach.
Since that time, Hoppe and the council have consistently said they want the entire beach restored. There are others, however, who feel that only 3,000 feet in front of Town Hall needs restoration.
Dissension was evident at the meeting. One person criticized the Town Council for pushing for rebuilding of the entire beach.
Jones and Terry reiterated that the alternative would be having no beach buffer to offset storm damage.
The $12-million beach project would be the third to get off the ground on Sand Key. The North Redington Beach-Redington Shores plan has been completed and Indian Rocks Beach's program is to begin June 1.
The county has allocated $2.5-million for Indian Shores' project, there is $6.7-million in the federal budget and the governor has placed $4.2-million in the budget for Indian Shores along with about $700,000 for maintenance of Indian Rocks Beach.
"With money as tight as it is, everyone is going to be looking for money," Jones said. "Anyone in the Legislature has the right to offer an amendment to appropriate the money elsewhere. When you have a project of this magnitude, not everyone is going to be in agreement, but my goodness, get along."
Without all of the financing, the project can't proceed, officials said.
"It's very important to have a united front," Green told residents. "If they (the governor and Cabinet) feel there is dissension . . . it can affect the way they vote."