Latest project news

Apollo Beach park reopens but dredging project hits snag


Special Correspondent
Published: June 24, 2015   |   Updated: June 25, 2015 at 08:07 AM

APOLLO BEACH – Area residents can once again fish, picnic and lob volleyballs at Apollo Beach Nature Preserve. However, beach combers and sunbathers will have to wait a few more months to enjoy the restored beach planned for the park.

The county-owned park at 6760 Surfside Blvd. reopened June 17 after being closed to the public since last November for a restoration project to prevent beach erosion.

Over the past 20 years, erosion stripped away sand at Apollo Beach’s only public beach, leaving behind a rocky berm. During the seven months the park was closed, the county spent $270,000 to level the berm, create upland sand dunes and construct seven 6- to 8-foot offshore rock barricades and a jetty to prevent erosion.

An army of 50 volunteers from Tampa Electric Co. also planted 10,000 native plants to stabilize the sand dunes.

With those preventive measures in place, the county plans to create a 2-acre beach by pumping 11,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from the north, south and main channels located off Apollo Beach.

The channels have become choked with silt, making them unnavigable for boats with deep drafts, and over the past four years, the nonprofit Apollo Beach Waterway Improvement Group, also known as ABWIG, has raised funds to dredge the channels.

“We originally hoped to dredge the channels in April and May,” said ABWIG President Len Berkstresser. “But we’ve run into a problem with the low bidder on the dredging contract not honoring his bid. So after several weeks of trying to negotiate, we’ve decided to solicit new bids for the work.”

Berkstresser said ABWIG plans to hire a new dredging company this summer, begin the dredging project in mid August and complete it by Oct. 30. Because sand from the dredging project will be pumped to the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve to create the beach, the park will be closed again during the duration of the dredging project.

In addition to funding the dredging of the channels, Berkstresser said ABWIG needs to raise an additional $50,000 for channel navigation markers and lights, additional shoreline vegetation, miscellaneous engineering services and a reserve fund to pay for damaged pilings and lights. So far, the group has raised $25,000.

To help fund the navigational markers, ABWIG is seeking sponsors for pilings, navigational signs called “dayboards,” and a light on the jetty in the north channel.

Sponsorships are as follows: pilings, $500; dayboards, $200; and the jetty light, $750. The names of sponsors will be engraved on brass plaques affixed to the pilings, dayboards and light.

“A lot of people have already stepped up with sponsorships but there are many other dayboards and pilings available for sponsorship along the main and south channels,” Berkstresser said.

ABWIG also is collecting donations for an additional 3,510 native plants in the nature preserve.

“When the dredging is completed, we are required to replant the upland area of the Apollo Beach Nature Park to keep the sand in place,” Berkstresser said.

ABWIG, therefore, is seeking “patrons of the plants” to purchase 750 one-gallon containers of pink muhly grass, 1,000 one-gallon dune sunflowers, 750 one-gallon railroad vines and 1,000 one-gallon containers of sea oats.

Anyone interesting in sponsoring a channel marker can send a check to ABWIG, P.O. Box 3251, Apollo Beach 33572. Donors should designate which channel marker they’d like to sponsor and the information to be engraved on the plaque.

For information, on the project or any of the sponsorship opportunities, email or visit the ABWIG Facebook page at

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One Response to Latest project news

  1. Jim Melton says:

    I understand from the excellent monthly reports that 3 entrance channels will be dredged hopefully starting in August 2015. How can we learn the planned depth of the dredging and how far into each channel the dredging will be done? We have a 6 foot draft boat and would love to bring it home to Apollo Beach. Any information would be most appreciated. You can also reach us at 801-231-3031. Thank you!

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