By Tamas Mondovics
Current board members of the Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group (ABWIG) gathered earlier this month to discuss the next step in connection with the dredging of the three main (North, Main and South) channels into Apollo Beach.
Since the last time ABWIG, a community non-profit organization, dredged the channels into Apollo Beach in 1995 at a cost of $60,000, the main waterways into the community have become silted and shallow, prompting the group to begin the process of fundraising and partnering with members of the community as well as County organizations for support.
“It’s now been four years since we began raising funds to dredge the channels as well as to make sure it’s maintained after the project is completed,” said ABWIG President Len Berkstresser.
The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the allocating $1.3 million to restore Apollo Beach and the Apollo Beach Nature Park.
With the majority of the fundraising behind them, ABWIG intends to have three areas in Apollo Beach dredged, starting with the North Channel, adjacent to TECO, followed by the South Channel from Bal Harbor going in to Symphony Isles and Mira Bay and the Main Channel, south of Andalucia.
“The board will meet to confirm the requests that will be sent out to seven perspective companies, who will have four weeks to respond with a bid for the project,” Berkstresser said.
ABWIG wants to see the project commence by Wednesday, October 1, and finish by the end of November.
The board stressed that although the group has met its financial goal, the fundraising will continue as it has incurred some other expenses and the returning bids for the project will determine how much money may yet to be needed.
As a way to bring awareness to the channel dredging effort, ABWIG organized a short informational, as well as fun, video shoot.
The informational part includes an update on the project’s current status, complete with an overview of the timeline and scope of the effort. Berkstresser emphasized the fun part of the video, which involves children between the ages of 3 and 8 who were on hand to start the dredging.
“We are getting tremendous community support for the video shoot that is posted on our Website and Facebook page,” he said.
While awaiting the bids from the perspective companies, ABWIG is scheduled to host a town hall-style meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, July 16, at 7 .p.m. at the Beggins Century 21 Realty building in Apollo Beach.
To learn more about and to donate to the project, visit www.ABWIG.org.