By Tamas Mondovics

SouthShore area residents supporting Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group’s (ABWIG) channel dredging project got a long-anticipated and much-welcomed update during a recent town-hall-style, open house meeting.

The program, held at the at the Century 21 Beggins Real Estate office on Hwy 41, next to the Publix Shopping Center, commenced with a room full of residents numbering more than 100, joined by Hillsborough County Officials and representatives of area businesses.

Commissioner Sandy Murman talked about the project, confirming the BOCC’s unanimous 7-0 approval of allocating $1.3 million to restore Apollo Beach and the Nature Park redesign plans, results and construction schedules, a topic that was also addressed by Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department Director, Ross Dickerson.

Acknowledging the group’s commitment to the project, Murman said that ABWIG’s advocacy is amazing and that “It will be a vital part of not only the dredging, but other projects planned for the Apollo Beach community.”

Also pleased with the overall community support, ABWIG President, Len Berkstresser, who took over as president in 2010, provided an update on the dredging project’s finances, starting with the group nearing its financial goal.

“We are at 85 percent of the $250,000 goal,” Berkstresser said. “We need $25,000 to make it and, with the support of the community, I know it is achievable.”

ABWIG intends to have three areas in Apollo Beach dredged; starting this summer 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.

While speaking highly of local companies such as TECO, Mosaic, and Mira Bay, just to name a few that donated generously toward the project, Berkstresser was concerned about the lack of support from many of the local Realtors within the Apollo Beach area.

“The dredging project is all about boating through the channel, but it is also about maintaining the residential real estate value,” he said, adding that the group does appreciate the support of Beggins Century 21 Realty.

The whole project is said to take about three-four months under the hands of Flores and Harper, a full-service general contracting company.

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