McClash fights to stop beach groins; Bullock responds

Erosion in front of North Longboat condominiums


Bullock: Time for beach experiments is over

McClash: north end beauty will be marred


Editor & Publisher

Are we destroying the beauty of the North end of Longboat Key or responsibly protecting residents and property?


For Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, the town and Manatee County are embarking too quickly on an inlet management plan that will install three groins on the north end of Longboat Key in an effort to stem costly erosion.

He made his points clear at a recent meeting but has since doubled up his fight in writing editorials and developing his case.

Longboat Key News spoke with McClash and heard his issues and then spoke with Longboat Key Town Manager Dave Bullock for his take, which is quite opposite.

“Once you start down the shoreline groin path you ruin the natural beauty forever,” says McClash.

And for McClash, the irony is he attributes much of the erosion headaches to Longboat Key’s 1993 beach renourishment.

McClash says that Longboat Key excavated 1.5 million cubic yards of sand off the widest part of Longboat Pass — the shoals. He says a Humistan and Moore engineering study substantiates that Longboat took too much beach sand out of that region and the recommendation was to allow a healing period of 10 years.

“To me it seems odd that they remove that sand in 1993 and then we subsequently had erosion on Coquina and then Longboat. Now the same consultants say you need to add sand and groins,” said McClash.

“My alternative is a good compromise — put sand on the beach and realign the channel away from Longboat Key.”

McClash argues that the town and Manatee can go back and put groins in three-and-a-half or seven years if needed.

McClash, who has been on the commission since 1996 and a boater all his life, urges a more natural solution. He says adding groins will change the approach to Longboat Key and the visual beauty. He urges residents to notice the pristine view from the bridge and compare it to the South end of Anna Maria, which has a terminal groin.

“It will mar the area and change the type of people attracted to Longboat Key and the area. This is a real tipping point for Longboat Key.”

But for Bullock, the facts of cost and erosion are what count and the time to keep experimenting is over.


Bullock said that the town placed about $4 million in sand on the north end about one year ago and a survey points to 50 percent washed away. And Bullock notes that there was not even a large storm event. He said the cost to keep doing that is far out of proportion to the benefit.

Bullock adds that both the town’s coastal engineer and another in a peer review agreed a terminal groin is needed as the best solution.

Bullock said the cost exposure to the community is tremendous if the town merely continues to dump sand on the issue.

Bullock said that the groins would not be as much of a visual intrusion as some are saying because they will jut out westerly from the Key, not directly into the channel near the bridge. Bullock says the two proposed groins farther to the south would help retain sand that transports north at the tip of the island.

In the issue, McClash is the maverick voice in that a clear majority of Manatee County Commissioners support the groin proposal as well as Longboat Commissioners. Whether McClash can make headway in his opposition depends on how the state agencies interpret or feel about the proposal as well as if he can generate community opposition to the groin plan.

As for Longboat Key commissioners, the groins represent a studied solution to a costly problem.


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Longboat Key News

3 Responses for “McClash fights to stop beach groins; Bullock responds”

  1. Richard Wood says:

    Longboat Key and property owners have reviewed problem for several years. We have had professionals from the outside also look at the problem. I feel they all agree the least we can do to help maintain our beach is to add the terminal groin and put the inlet back to where it was. The additional groins are needed to maintain the sand as is the complete changing of the inlet. Mr McClash has stated in a meeting that he does not care if the Coquinta building falls in the gulf and that we should not try to correct the problem by adjusting the Longboat inlet.

    Almost half of Longboat Key is in Manatee County as is Greer Island, a Manatee county park yet Longboat Key is paying 50 per cent. We need to do this project now before millions more is spent on sand.

  2. Dave Baughman says:

    I also agree with McClash. As a over 30 year resident of Longbeach Condominiums, it has become obvious that the North end helps protect all of the properties south on Lonboat Key from increased beach erosion.
    But now, the Commissioners, who mostly live in those same protected properties, want to throw the North end owners property values under the bus so they don’t have to pay for the protection from sand erosion that they enjoy.

    Their approach is to put rocky eyesores on the beach and in the water right in front of our properties so that they don’t have to pony up later when the beach needs renourishment, but what will happen when their beaches ultimately need renourishment later? Will they sacrifice thier views for the team and put the same eyesores in front of their prtoperties to save others from the cost of renourishment? You and I know they won’t, and our property taxes won’t be going down either, after all, they still want our money to fund their next folly.

    Can we get some professional city managers to represent all of the residents, and not just the ones who cater to themselves?

  3. Peter van Roekens says:

    Consultants do not know the longer term effects of their proposed solutions. Once they have completed their modeling and been paid, they bear none of the responsibility for the results or the costs of remediation.
    McClash may be in the minority but he is right.

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