By Steve Plunkett
The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District plans to hand-deliver a check for $3.7 million — as soon as the City Council finds time to accept it.
The money is half the local cost of renourishing the city’s beaches from the Boca Raton Inlet north to the southern end of Red Reef Park. District commissioners decided at their Feb. 16 meeting that they would pay for half of the bill, up from their previous contribution level of one-third of costs.
But District Chairman Robert Rollins added one stipulation: “Let them know I’ll deliver the check at the time I address the council.”
The district and the council have been going back and forth since mid-August trying to schedule a joint meeting. In January the district put the joint meeting on a back burner and asked Boca Raton to schedule an appearance by Rollins at the council’s Feb. 22 workshop. Whenever he appears before the council, he plans to talk about what he and his fellow commissioners call the “strained” relationship between the two government bodies.
Arthur Koski, the district’s executive director, emailed and phoned City Hall to confirm the Feb. 22 appearance, but did not receive a reply. Rollins said he, too, got the cold shoulder.
“I placed a call to the mayor’s office last week. No communication from their office regarding that,” Rollins said.
He did not speak at the workshop.
Boca Raton has been counting on getting the $3.7 million from the district since a joint meeting in June, when district commissioners informally agreed to pay the higher amount. The district had budgeted $2.6 million for the beach project and will dip into reserves for the difference.
But district commissioners said the 50 percent contribution was for this project only, and that they will consider future renourishment projects on a case-by-case basis. Boca Raton has proposed the district commit to paying half of all beach costs for 30 years.
The dredging is scheduled to start this month and should be completed by the end of April.
“The week of March 6 they’ll start pumping sand on the beach,” said Jennifer Bistyga, the city’s coastal program manager.
Photos of the work will be posted at www.myboca.us under “Central Beach Renourishment Project.”
Bistyga said under the permit granted by the state Department of Environmental Protection, workers must take “every precaution possible” to protect nesting sea turtles. Sea turtle nesting season begins March 1.
The renourishment will cost $11.3 million, with the state and county paying about $4 million. That left about $3.7 million each for the district and the city if they split the local share.
Koski also told commissioners he had received bids for the first phase of rebuilding the boardwalk at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center but he had not yet evaluated them. The bids range from $581,000 to $1.2 million, he said.
By Steve Plunkett