By Tamas Mondovics
“We have come a long way and still have more work to do, but donations like the one provided by the Keller Williams SouthShore Office will enable us to complete the task at hand,” said Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group president, Len Berkstresser, during a recent open house meeting.
Berkstresser was pleased to receive a $10,000 donation check from the Keller Williams SouthShore Office, which helped the group to inch even closer to its financial commitment.
The townhall-style meeting is part of a series of events since the endeavor began several years ago and has once again brought together more than 80 SouthShore area residents who were eager to hear and discuss the group’s ongoing effort to raise funds in order to dredge the three channels in Apollo Beach.
Also present was Ross Dickerson, General Manager, Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department, who brought residents up-to-speed on the Apollo Beach Nature Park re-design plans and the request for proposal results and construction schedules.
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.
“We are now very close to reaching the $250,000 needed to get the project done,” Berkstresser said. “The time is in fact set for the project to start and there is no doubt we will raise the remaining funds needed on time.”
BOCC unanimously approved allocating $1.3 million to restore Apollo Beach and the Apollo Beach Nature Park. The dredging of the three channels is said to take about three to four months under the hands of Flores and Harper, a full-service general contracting company and is now slated to begin next spring with the closing of the Apollo Beach Nature Park, followed by the dredging in July.
Looking past the first phase of the project, ABWIG officials emphasized the importance of the second phase, which has largely have to do with the allocation of resources to maintain the newly-dredged channels and to ensure its continued future care.
Berkstresser said that Hillsborough County has not committed to an ongoing maintenance after the dredging is complete, but hopes that wisdom will prevail on the part of the BOCC to support the Apollo Beach area community.
“The last Apollo Beach channel dredging project was conducted in 1995 and cost $60, 000,” he said. “Today the cost is four times as much and I don’t think anyone would want to re-dredge in 10-15 years.”
The group members emphasized that the county should provide the necessary maintenance. They say that it is cost effective, not to mention the fact that the county is reaping the benefits as people want to live by the water.”
ABWIG is thankful for the strong support of Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, as well as the support of the 250 plus residents and businesses such as Mosaic, TECO Power, Newland Communities, the Keller Williams SouthShore Office, Beggins Century 21 Realty and many other local organizations that have been supporting the effort.
In closing, Berkstresser put things in perspective when he said, “Our goal is to bring the beach back to Apollo Beach.”
To learn more about and to donate to the project, please visit www.ABWIG.org.