The 3,000-square-foot island in the Lehigh Canal formed from debris.
What started as a floating glob of construction debris in the Lehigh Canal has turned into a forested, 2,500-3,000-square-foot island that the city will have to spend more than $90,000 to remove.
From the trailhead at the bridge at Old Kings Road and Royal Palms Parkway, any hint of the debris that birthed the island is hidden, covered with vegetation: the clump of pines that mark the island’s eastern end, a thicket of dense shrubbery, and a fringe of dun-colored marsh grasses.
But the little island began forming after the nearby L-4 weir broke in a 2002 storm, and the debris massed in the canal, city Stormwater Manager Mike Brennan said.
“It’s probably just been accumulating ever since,” he said. “We did some construction on the Lehigh Canal, and that probably contributed to it.”
The problem is that the island changes that area’s water flow, causing erosion.
“It naturally starts serpenting and creating oxbow lakes and things like that” — a process that’s fine on a river, but a problem on a straight-line canal, Brennan told City Council members at a workshop. “It’ll start eroding one side, and then eroding the other side,” Brennan said. “It naturally forms this S-shape.”
The water around the island isn’t very deep — just a few feet, according to city documents. But, Brennan said, “I haven’t put my waders on and tested it out. There’s a big alligator that likes to hang out there.”
Changes in water flow cased by the island could affect homes, and may have already contributed to damage on the bridge, which the city repaired earlier this year by reinforcing a bridge abutment, Brennan said.
So Palm Coast will pay Cline Construction $98,325 to get rid of the island with dump trucks and trackhoes. The job should be completed by Christmas, Brennan said.
“They’ll take a trackhoe out there and start pulling it out,” Brennan said. “It’s not going be a pretty project.”