Coconut Residents Want Dock Replacement

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Last Wednesday night, residents of Hercules Street gathered at Town Hall to talk about the dock they’d like to see replaced at their bay access. This Wednesday, residents of Coconut got their turn, telling Public Works Director Scott Baker and Council member Tracey Gore that they are excited about the fact they have 100% approval from all of their neighbors.

At first, most of the residents were interested in the Town vacating the Right Of Way (ROW) to the neighborhood so they could build their own dock – expressing disbelief when Baker told them that would result in the neighbors on either side essentially each owning half the property. One of them quickly rallied her neighbors to the cause, however, and the question and answer session with Baker and Gore became centered on what their options are.

Like he did with the Hercules residents, Baker explained that building a new dock would take at least a year, a time frame he said the Town has little control over.

“By the Town’s laws, it has to bid out for qualification for the engineering and design,” Gore said, and Baker said that it takes two weeks to solicit qualified engineers for the design process, after which the Town looks at the type of work they’ve done and makes a decision based on qualifications and price.

“Then it’s two months to solicit bids for construction,” he said. “Once the engineering is done – if it costs less than $25,000 I don’t have to go to Council, and it won’t – I will immediately start submitting permits to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). They will submit to everyone else and look at the environmental aspects. The part that takes forever – up to 300 days – is the Army Corps of Engineers. Luckily, I just read that the Governor has directed them to expedite that process. Permitting fees are about $4,000, and they won’t be waived.”

One resident pointed out that the neighbors need to convince Council that, not only do they want the dock, future residents will too.

“If y’all do this, and it’s a public dock, will there be a sign out by the end of the road? Because two cars can’t fit on Coconut,” someone asked, and Gore replied that no sign would be erected.

“That was a Tourist Development Council (TDC) requirement – not us,” she said, and Baker said there would be some kind of sign on the dock itself identifying it as a pier and that there is no lifeguard present.

Gore asked about a boat dock that currently exists at the end of Coconut, and the residents told her that some of them use it for kayaks and small boats, but ‘it is useless for anything else’.

“The first process is to make sure that Council puts money in the budget to pay for this – so email each Council member and the Town Manager separately one week before each upcoming budget hearing,” Baker said. “We’re also going to apply for the same grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that we talked about with the Hercules people.”

In response to a question asking which dock would be built first should there not be enough money in the budget for both to be done simultaneously, Baker replied that it would likely be the first neighborhood to submit signatures proving 100% approval.

“Anything is open for request during the budget hearings,” he said.

Gore said this ‘is all about getting what we want on our island’.

“The resident’s needs come first, no matter what,” she said. “At least three of us (on Council) have already agreed to put a $150,000 placeholder in the budget for the docks at Hercules and Coconut.”

 

Keri Hendry Weeg