ST. PETE BEACH - The renourishment of Upham Beach will begin next spring, the Army Corps of Engineers told the city last week.
The Upham sand feeding, a year later than originally scheduled, is expected to cost $3-million, with $800,000 coming from the county's tourist development tax and the rest from state and federal sources.
The delay will allow crews to expand the renourishment to include Sunset Beach, said Rick McMillen, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager for renourishments in Pinellas. "We're also trying to be more fiscally responsible with taxpayers' dollars."
City officials will meet in July to decide on a separate but related project: the installation of underwater groins, the sausage-shaped, sand-filled tubes which many residents believe will keep Upham's sand from washing into the Gulf of Mexico.
If the city commissioners decide to install the groins, the project would be funded by the state and county, said city manager Mike Bonfield.
McMillen, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager for renourishments in Pinellas, last week said the underwater groins would not be cost-effective.
"We knew that we couldn't justify the groins. It was much cheaper for us and the federal taxpayers to come back every three to five years and renourish the beach," McMillen said.
Last week, St. Pete Beach Mayor Ward Friszolowski said that he would agree to not having the proposed groins if the city could be assured that Upham Beach would be renourished every three years.