Cedar Key projects are moving forward


The boat cruising in the boat basin at Cedar Key resembles a paddle wheeler but is actually a specially equipped vessel for dredging operated by Encore Dredging of Indiana.

KAREN VOYLES/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 17, 2005 at 10:58 p.m.
CEDAR KEY - The series of hurricanes that disrupted millions of lives last year also interrupted countless public projects, including the $1.5 million face lift underway in this island city.
The project was well underway in Cedar Key before Bonnie, Charley and all their relatives began appearing on weather maps in August.
A new playground had been developed on the city beach, sidewalks were being upgraded and replaced and Dock Street was being repaved and made wheelchair-accessible.
The centerpiece of the project was to be the maintenance dredging of the boat basin and improvements in the boat-trailer parking areas surrounding the basin. The dredging project is finally moving forward after the delays caused by the hurricanes.
Dredging meant removing the silt that had washed into the boat basin over more than a decade since the last dredging project. Dredging was necessary to make the basin accessible at all tides. Without dredging, boats could not enter or leave the basin to be launched or loaded back onto trailers at the lowest tides, which usually occur twice a day.
The parking problem could not be resolved until the dredging was completed because a large swath of the existing parking space was allocated for dredging equipment. Once material had been dredged, it was either loaded into specially designed bags to dry out before being disposed of inland or was pumped into tanker trucks to be disposed of inland.
"What made this such a nightmare was that every time a hurricane was forecast, all of the equipment had to be broken down and hauled out of here, and then when the hurricanes had passed, the equipment had to be hauled back out here and set back up," said Sue Colson, the city commissioner overseeing the project.
In the midst of the hurricanes, county officials became concerned about the possibility of contaminants being hauled onshore with the dredged material from the floor of the basin. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection was called in to assess the potential problem, according to Jodi Conway, a spokeswoman for the agency. The result was another delay while a laboratory analyzed the dredged material.
"We approved a sampling plan and reviewed the lab results and found they were within acceptable limits," Conway said. "We also determined that what was begin done was maintenance dredging and that does not require a permit from us for the disposed material."
The dredged material is now being disposed of on area pastures and farmland under contract with the Indiana company Encore Dredging.
"We know that people are getting anxious to see this work finished and we hope that it will be done in about six weeks," Colson said. "I hope people will be patient and remember that right now we are just one year from the conception of this project and, in terms of how governments work, that is really moving at light speed."
The work is being paid for out of grants and with money generated by the $10-per-boat launch fee charged by the city.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com.

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