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Drought benefit: Dredging Longwood Cove costs less
Bids range from $800,000 to $2 million
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The bids are in, and Gainesville officials will soon decide who will dredge the silt-filled Longwood Cove.

Eight local contractors responded to the city’s request for proposals on Tuesday, said Paul Krippner, project manager in the construction services division of Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department.

The bids ranged from $800,000 to $2 million. Krippner expects to choose a contractor and ask for the City Council’s approval by the end of January.

The project is seven years in the making. Originally, the city had plans to share the cost of the project with the Army Corps of Engineers. But after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, the corps had to spend its share of the cost on
disaster relief.

With funding in hand, the city decided to continue the project on its own. Now is as good a time as any.

"All of this right now is timing, with the lake and the level it is," Krippner said. "That’s why the bids were favorable, because ... it’s easier to get in there and (dredge) the silt when you don’t have to deal with water."

Since Lake Lanier is at an all-time low, contractors can use normal excavating equipment for the job instead of special, marine excavators, which can be quite costly, Krippner said.

The city has $2 million from the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority to spend on the dredging project, which will include construction of a retaining wall and an extension of a greenway trail that comes from downtown Gainesville into Longwood Park.

Jordan, Jones and Goulding consulting firm is designing the project and engineering the disposal of the silt.

"A very important part of it is the price, of course," Krippner said.

Money is important, but there are other considerations when deciding on the best bid.

"We have to look at the methods they’re going to use (to dredge), because it’s kind of critical," Krippner said. "We’re in a park area there; we’ve got to worry about damage to the park."

The cove, which stretches from John Morrow Jr. Parkway (Ga. 53) to just beyond the Longwood Park tennis courts, once had enough water for a boat dock.

"That used to be a fairly deep little cove there," Krippner said.

But a buildup of sediment — blamed on construction at Lakeshore Mall and Morrow Parkway — made the dock inaccessible.

"Over the years, that silt has grown up in there and you can walk across the cove now," Krippner said.

When the dredging project is complete, people will be able to access Longwood Park by boat, and they can swim and fish from the park.

At Thursday’s Gainesville City Council work session, Mayor Robert "Bob" Hamrick noted that property owners who have boat docks in the lake have permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to clean up and remove downed trees and limbs around their docks.

However, fallen trees and limbs that are away from the docks should not be cleared, Hamrick said.

"This is the only type fish habitat that is in the lake," Hamrick said.

Hamrick had city officials check on the dredging policies after hearing concerns from residents who live in the Longwood Cove area.

Dredging the silt around the docks requires a permit, and the permit requires the local approval of Chris Lovelady, the corps chief ranger for Lake Lanier. Hamrick said the permit is not difficult to obtain.

Hamrick said he was glad that dredging permits, specifically permits to dredge around Longwood Cove, could be handled at a local level rather than having to go through the corps’ Mobile and Savannah offices.

"Anybody who wants to clean up, have at it," said Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras.