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Tierra Verde homeowners fight to save Grand Canal, get waterway dredged

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Posted at 4:13 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 20:21:07-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla.  — Residents in Pinellas County’s Tierra Verde are on a mission to save the Grand Canal. It’s a channel off the Gulf of Mexico that leads to hundreds of homes, a marina, hotel and restaurant, but it’s quickly closing in with sand.

A project to dredge the waterway recently hit a roadblock, but residents and legislative leaders are on a mission to get it back onto the fast track.

Sharon Calvert, who lives at the Yacht Haven Condos, which back up to the Grand Canal, said that the area lives up to its name.

“It’s the Grand Canal! The view is gorgeous. We see wonderful sunsets and it truly is paradise,” she said with a smile.

Yet, what was once deep water is now being replaced by sand, especially in the Southern portion of the channel which leads out to the Gulf.

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Tammy Parker lives on that end and has watched the transformation from her condo Sterling on The Gulf.

“The area back behind our condos used to be all water. Now it’s sand all the way to the sea wall and it fills in under the boat slips,” she explained.

The sand has also impacted the channel that boats navigate through. Parker said she’s heard several boats hit the sand bar.

“The channel has become so narrow they’ve had to move the channel markers. They keep moving them in and in so that part of the canal is narrowing and that’s how you go to the open water and the Gulf,” Calvert added.

One private dock even sits on its own private beach now, despite being in deep water just a few years ago.

State leaders including representative Linda Chaney have been working on a solution. Last legislative session, a bill that would have provided $585,000 dollars towards dredging the canal passed both the house and senate. But, at the final hour, it was vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis. The rest of the money to dredge the canal would have been split between users of the waterway including the home and business owners.

Representative Chaney said getting the funding is at the top of her list for the next session.

“I haven’t given up. The fights not over,” she told ABC Action News.

People who live in Tierra Verde worry the longer the project is delayed the worse it will get.

“We could be one hurricane away from it closing,” Calvert added.

And that, residents said, would have a domino effect on property values, businesses and the environment in Tierra Verde.