During Monday night's City Council meeting, city leaders unanimously agreed to enter into a contract with Waterfront Property Services, LLC (Gator Dredging) to perform the emergency dredging in the Old Pass Lagoon.
"I cannot even begin to tell you the hurdles staff has jumped through to make this happen," Mayor Sam Seevers told The Log Tuesday morning. "Working through the permitting with the state was a lot of work."
City leaders declared a state of emergency in March, which allowed them to speed up the permitting process with the state. As the navigational channel and harbor mouth began to shrink, boats began to scrape their bottoms. Some of the larger boats, such as the Buccaneer Pirate Ship, had difficulty getting out of the harbor and city leaders feared the pass could become impassable.
The city council is placing its faith in Gator Dredging to ensure that doesn’t happen. The company was the low bid on the project, and they will dredge between 10,000-15,000-cubic yards of sand out of the harbor mouth and navigational channel. The sand will be placed on the Galic Pointe property, formerly Pointe One, on Norriego Point until the city can place it. Ultimately the sand will be used to help solidify the battered point as part of a long-term stabilization project.
To fund the project, the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council pitched in $180,000 and the city will contribute $20,000. The city must also pay local engineering firm Taylor Engineering for design work and permitting, which means the city must pull an additional $9,162 out of its pocket to fully fund the project.
Matthew's Marine Inc. was the second bidder on the project and came back with a total price tag of $226,101.50. Matthew's Marine had previously dredged Norriego Point in 2012.
Gator Dredging is based in Pinellas Park, Fla., and, according to bid documents, will use a 2011 Ellicott Swinging Dragon 8-inch diameter hydraulic cutter head dredge. Gator Dredging has completed projects in Cape Coral, at the Cudjoe Key Channel, and in St. Petersburg.
The project must be completed no later than May 24.
"I think they are mobilizing as we speak," City Manager Maryann Ustick said Monday night. "We are looking to get started by the end of the week."
For more on the dredging project, click here.