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Group wants to clean Cocoa Beach

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – The Surfing's Evolution and Preservation Foundation is proposing getting the city, hoteliers, and other businesses interested in coming together to pay for having a company use mechanical rakes to clean a one-mile section of Cocoa Beach.

"The idea is to take a portion of the beach and get private and public partnership to keep it clean," Jack Kirschenbaum, vice president of the foundation told Local 6 news partner Florida Today. "Everyone has agreed in principle that this is the thing we ought to do."

The Surfing's Evolution and Preservation Foundation was started by Ron Jon Surf Shop's founder Ron Dimenna.

The City Commission is scheduled Thursday to consider whether it will pool $50,000 a year with private funding to maintain the beach.

A contractor would use a tractor with a custom made rake that picks up debris in a metal basket pulled behind the tractor. It would clean the beach from Sidney Fischer Park to the Cocoa Beach Pier. The number of times it would clean the beach each month has not yer been determined.

Kogler, 74, said he would like to see beach cleaning to encompass more than just the Minutemen Causeway area, which usually draws large crowds and has been the focus of cleaning in recent years.

"It would be beneficial to do the rest," he said. "I'd go for it."

Kirschenbaum said he walks the beach almost every day during most of the year and sees all sorts of trash left behind in the sand.

"Keep Brevard Beautiful, which does a good job, just can't keep up with it," he said.

WD Thompson Inc. Beach Raker of Pompano Beach, being considered by the foundation, says it has more than 30 years experience in beach cleaning throughout the state. It says it has more than 200 clients in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties covering about 45 miles of beach.

Other areas of Florida have grappled with the problem of keeping the beaches clean, but few have to concern themselves with turtle nesting. Brevard County's expanse of beaches is considered the largest nesting site in the Western Hemisphere for loggerhead sea turtles.

In August 2008, Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral bought an $81,000 mechanical rake primarily to clean up cigarette butts from the sand, but which cannot be used during sea turtle nesting season.

The cost of the rake was split three ways between the two cities and the Brevard County Tourism Development Council. Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral continue to use its rake.

The 7-foot-wide rake was used to clean up beach areas near Minutemen Causeway, which normally attract the most people and the most trash.

Kirschenbaum said the one mile section would be a pilot program.

"If it works and people are happy with it maybe it can be expanded," he said.