Eventually, the tops of the islands will turn green with
grasses, mangroves and other plants to provide a habitat
for wading birds looking for a meal. Recycled oyster shells
gathered from restaurants will be cleaned and placed under
the water around the edges of the islands to attract oyster
larvae, which will grow up and filter the water to help keep it
clean. Last summer, about six weeks after the base of the first
island was created, divers discovered that fish were already
teeming in the area, swimming in and out of the rocks, much
to Kubitschek’s delight.
Local boat captain Chop Lege is already planning to wind
through the islands with his pontoon boat, taking tourists for
environmental and birding trips. For now, spectators watch
from the riverfront or from tables at the Tiki as barges, boats
and cranes do their work.
The $18.8 million job of creating islands in the Indian River
Lagoon to protect the city’s taxpayer-owned waterfront
started last May and will end in late May or early June. It
took six years to design it and get the permits. But with two
islands, Snook and Manatee, finished and the other 10 “in
progress,” he knows victory is at last within his grasp. When
all 12 islands are finished, work can start on the 137 slips —
spaces along docks where boats can be tied up — which will
finally put the city’s popular marina back together again so it
can help boost the local economy.
The floating concrete docks will take another 18 months
and about $10 million to complete, but he is optimistically
planning to begin taking applications for space this June.
“I hope we can do the dock project in a way that some of
the slips can be used while the rest of the project is being
finished,” he said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is paying for
the islands. The city’s insurance is paying for $6.5 million of
the dock cost, and FEMA will pay for the rest. TetraTec, a Stuart
firm, designed and engineered the islands; Lucas Marine
of Stuart is the builder.
Right now, 10-acre Tern Island , the largest of them, is being
filled with sand from a Florida Inland Navigation dredging
site in Stuart.
After the islands, are finished the city will monitor and
observe them for two years. If they pass muster with the
state, doing everything they are supposed to do, the state will
allow other cities to use a similar plan to protect their water-
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Fort Pierce, FL 34950
Sept. 2004 – Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne destroy 143
slips at the marina.
Feb. 2005 – Plans begin for the restoration.
Nov. 2006 – Building begins of a model of the islands.
Feb. 2007 – Testing the model takes place in a large water
tank in Canada and modifications are made.
August 2009 – The state approves permits for the project.
Sept. 2010 – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declares
its intent to issue permits.
Dec. 2010 – The Corps offers the city the permits it intends
to approve, along with restrictions and guidelines,
and the Fort Pierce City Commission votes its approval on
May 2012 – Construction of islands starts.
June 2013 – Construction of islands to be complete.
Dec. 2014 – Dock construction to be complete.