By Tamas Mondovics

After nearly six years of hard work, members of the Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group (ABWIG) were pleased to announce the completion of the Apollo Beach shoreline restoration project. To celebrate, ABWIG President Len Berkstresser has confirmed a grand opening ceremony scheduled for Saturday, October 22, 2016, which he said will bring together local dignitaries, county government officials, community leaders and members of the community.

“It took some time, but I am very pleased with what has been accomplished and how things worked out,” Berkstresser said, adding that the competition of the $1.5 million project could not have been possible without the support of the County and the members of the community. “We are thankful for the community’s generous support, the Hillsborough Board of County Commission, the County Parks department and its leadership the Hillsborough County Lands Management Department and, we owe a huge gratitude to Commissioner Sandra Murman, for her commitment and dedication to support the project,” Berkstresser said.

The project itself involved the dredging of the three channels in Apollo Beach, including the North Channel, adjacent to TECO, followed by the South Channel going in to Symphony Isles and Mira Bay and the Main Channel, south of Andalucia.

Aside from the dredging, the project also included the restoration of the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve, 6760 Surfside Blvd, and the creation of a brand new 2.5-acre white sandy beach within the preserve.

Berkstresser said that to help residents enjoy the new beach at the Preserve, the volleyball court was relocated and additional parking was also added. The planting of some native vegetation is now being completed. Apollo Beach is a 63-acre Preserve at the northern terminus of Apollo Beach. Its west side, facing Tampa Bay, has been developed for recreational activities, while the eastern portion has been restored to natural habitat consisting of dunes, islands, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps.

ABWIG is counting on the BOCC’s continued support to maintain the channels and to be prepared for the next round of dredging in 10-15 years.

For more information visit www.abwig.org or Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group on Facebook.