By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - Working steadily, the city marina project is coming together one island at a time.
The unique plans, that the state is considering a pilot project, consists of building habitat islands in the Indian River Lagoon - instead of walls - as protection from incoming storms.
"We are continuing to close up the perimeter of Tern Island in preparations to start our filling operations to create the dune habitat," said Edward Seissiger, project coordinator.
"The filling operations are scheduled to start in early November."
All 12 islands will be constructed out of sand filled with geotextile cores with graded rock armor. Tern Island will also have a natural sand veneer dredged from the outer marina basin.
While the idea of building islands has been around for a number of years, this will be the first time in Florida that islands are being built to protect a shoreline.
In addition, they will provide acres of new habitats for oysters, shorebirds, sea grass and mangroves.
Currently, the project will be paid for using FEMA dollars and state disaster funds. The city pays the expenses and gets reimbursed by the government.
Currently, the city is 47 percent complete with its funding on the project.
"We billed out $5.5 million in reimbursement requests, and to date, we have received $4 million back," Mr. Seissiger said. "The current balance is $1.524 million, but those invoices are less than 30 days old. FEMA is doing a very good job turning our money around."
Even with the recent developments with Hurricane Sandy, the project is expected to stay on track.
"We are not anticipating any impact to the funds at this time," he said.
The islands will range in size from a third of an acre to 10 acres, and the project has been able to stay on its target dates.
"(Lucas Marine construction staff) has been working on Sundays to keep up, and the schedule appears to be accelerated," Mr. Seissiger said.
As part of the permitting process with the state, the city is expected to donate 56 acres of city-owned submerged lands back to the state for additional mitigation in the river.
The project is expected to be completed by spring 2013.