By Tamas Mondovics
The Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department closed the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve last month to protect public safety during the construction phase of the long planned for Apollo Beach dredging project.
It was nearly two years ago that president Len Berkstresser of Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group (ABWIG) Inc., a Florida non-profit organization, told a large group of residents gathered at the Beggins Century 21 offices conference room that he wanted to see the room filled to capacity with residents and supporters.
“It is time for us to join together once again and work toward the preservation of our waterways,” he said.
A year later, Berkstresser was pleased to update another large group of Apollo Beach area residents that the BOCC unanimously approved the allocating of $1.3 million to restore Apollo Beach and the Nature Preserve Park.
The shoreline restoration and channel dredging project at the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve is now underway and is finally showing tangible results.
Through donations from area businesses, including The Mosaic Company and Tampa Electric Company, homeowners’ associations, boating clubs and families, the Group has raised its share of $250,000 toward the construction and logistics cost and, confirmed that the $1.525 million project is a cooperative partnership between the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department and ABWIG.
The project reclaims sand for the beach by dredging the three channels connecting Apollo Beach to Tampa Bay, while the County installs eight breakwaters parallel to the western shoreline and a T-groin near the North Channel, which will reduce wave energy to minimize erosion from the beach and reduce the sediment settling into the North Channel.
Dune restoration, a living shoreline and a newly designed beach featuring native vegetation and a rebuilt concrete walk and motorway is all in the works.
The Group estimates post-dredging restoration of the park and installation of navigational aids cost at $35,000.
“You have come together like no other group I have ever seen,” County Commissioner Sandra Murman said during an earlier public meeting.
The whole project is said to take about three to four months under the hands of Flores and Harper, a full-service general contracting company.
Phase two of the dredging is the allocation of resources to maintain the channels and to ensure its continued future care.