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County moves on infrastructure projects

With millions of dollars flowing into the county for infrastructure, Franklin County commissioners signed off last week on a number of high-profile projects, including the revitalization of Island View Park west of Carrabelle.

The park, a 7.5-acre bayfront tract just west of Carrabelle funded by more than $2.6 million in Deepwater Horizon oil spill monies, along with a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had been up and running but a scant couple months before it was devastated in Oct. 2018 by Hurricane Michael.

On May 17, the commissioners approved a roughly $1.6 million bid by North Florida Construction, the firm that did repairs on the Eastpoint Fishing Pier bathroom.

Erin Griffith, the county’s finance director, said the county gave out nine bid packets, and was optimistic they would receive proposals from at least four who attended a pre-bid meeting, but it turned out North Florida offered the only bid.

FEMA, which is funding the entire repair costs, deemed the contract to be sole source, and after Jennifer Daniels, assistant director for emergency management, spoke with state officials at the Governor’s Hurricane Conference, the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined the bid met the requirements for noncompetitive procurement.

Griffith said the bid will cover replacement of the parking lot, which had been brick pavers, with asphalt, as well repair of all the electrical boxes, docks and paths. In addition, there will be the addition of a vinyl sheet pile wall, and reinforcement of the dock’s vertical supports. The county eventually plans to put in portable toilets.

“The pavilions were actually fine,” she said. “We don’t have a start date but it’s supposed to take only 90 days.”

The commissioners also approved a $200,000 grant agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Beach Management Division for the design and permitting phase of the Alligator Point Beach Nourishment Project. 

The county is not obligated to proceed with construction, Griffith said, noting that this grant award, to MRD & Associates, will provide a design and cost estimate should the county wish to proceed with the construction of an artificial beach structure along the washout area of Alligator Drive. 

As it stands now, construction costs are estimated at about $10 million, with that cost possibly split between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and RESTORE monies.

MRD Associates plans to conduct surveys, prepare a design, obtain regulatory permits and analyze how Municipal Services Taxing Units, based on a property’s taxable value, or Benefit Units, a flat rate for each parcel, could fund future beach nourishment projects. 

MRD Associates also shared its completion of a County-Wide Dune Restoration Study for the RESTORE program, which analyzed about 16 miles of shoreline including the public beach areas of St. George Island, Carrabelle Beach, Alligator Point and Bald Point, but not including the private areas of Dog island and the Plantation.

Commissioners approved the county staff recommendation of pursuing template dune and coastal hammock restoration and protection at two county beach parks – St. George Island’s Lighthouse Park, at a cost of $215,782, and Carrabelle Beach Park, at an estimated price tag of $228,944.

The county also plans to pursue implementation of a county-wide dune vegetation project, at a cost of $257,250, some of which will be on private property.

A varied vegetation footprint of between 6 and 7.5 feet could be installed along the toe of the dune areas along 11 miles of public beaches, consisting of four miles of St. George Island, 0.8 miles of Carrabelle Beach, five miles of Alligator Point and 1.2 miles of Bald Point.

Griffith said native coastal vegetation would be placed on 18-inch centers in staggered rows for a natural look. Approximately 171,500 plants would be needed for the county-wide effort at an estimated installed cost per plant of $1.25. Franklin County would obtain written consent from interested private property owners for the plants to be installed along the dune line. 

She said the current price tag totals about $700,000, so the county will seek approval of about $1 million from RESTORE monies. “RESTORE funded $100,000 for MRD’s planning portion,” Griffith. “But we’ll still have to go through all the same hoops (for implementation money).”

Commissioners also approved changes in engineering costs for the Fort Coombs Armory Sprinkler System Project, and requested an additional $271,338 in funding for the project from the Tourist Development Council. The TDC grants the request and now will have put close to $400,000 towards the project, which will run about $687,000 with work done by Cook Brothers, Inc. Funding for that also comes from insurance proceeds and a grant from the state fire marshal’s office.

The commissioners also approved awarding a $97,230 contract to Pigott Asphalt for repairs to the access road to the St. George Island fishing pier. Griffith said the work will entail replacing rip rap, repairing the guard rail and ribbon curb, and patching the asphalt roadway.

The commissioners also have received an $80,000 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Boating Improvement Grant for improvements to the St. George Island boat, which entails designing and permitting a floating breakwater anchored to the bottom.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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