Officials crunch numbers for two big-ticket projects

It’s going to take special effort for the normally pay-as-you-go Indian Harbour Beach City Council to come up with nearly $14 million to cover two projects – a new police station and a massive dredging project – which, combined, represent the largest capital outlay request in city history.

City Manager Mark Ryan called for a special workshop on the issue at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, at City Hall before its regular meeting.

The needed 13,000-square-foot, estimated $4 million police station (including equipment and furnishings) is to be built on 3.3 acres of city land on the east side of South Patrick Drive south of Dollar General Store. The land was purchased at bankruptcy auction and initially intended for a stormwater facility.

A consultant proposed that stormwater treatment be incorporated into the police station project, enough for the building and some of the surrounding areas.

The city prides itself on being debt-free and has maintained a strategy of pay as you go. In the case of the $4 million police station, the city actually has enough financial resources saved up to pull it off. However, the City Council still may consider a bank loan for a portion of the construction costs, Ryan said.

The proposed $9.6 million dredging project being considered for capital outlay funding involves the removal of 186,000 cubic yards of muck and 10,0000 pounds of nitrogen in the Indian Harbour Beach canals, the area considered “ground zero” for the emergency release of nearly 20 million gallons of sewage discharge during and after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The project without financial assistance is beyond the city’s financial capabilities, but something needs to be done to help the environment, Ryan said.

Beyond reducing nutrients into the lagoon, the dredging should improve water quality, enliven now muck-covered sea grasses and help prevent fish kills, he said.

A $5.6 million request now being considered by the Save Our Indian River Lagoon half-cent Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee. Other requests have gone to the St. John’s River Water Management District program and another will be sent to the Florida Inland Navigation District for funding engineering and permitting.

“It’s too early to tell how much we need for the dredging project until we hear back. We do not have the financial capabilities for all of the combined $13.6 million in capital projects,’’ Ryan said.

Leave a Comment