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North end warned of rapid erosion

 

MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

Town Manager David Bullock gave notice on Friday, April 27 to 360 North condominium owners that there is potential for the Gulf to breech their buildings in the event of a storm.

“Their level of protection is diminishing with every storm,” said Bullock.

The warning came as a result of the severe erosion of the beach at the north end of Longboat Key, despite a 130-foot shoreline of sand being placed at the location one year ago.

“Today, Juan (Public Works Director Juan Florensa) and I notified the president of the homeowners of Condo 360 North of the beach erosion that has recently occurred between their buildings and the Gulf. There appears to be about 30-50 feet of dry beach remaining of what was placed in the nourishment done about a year ago. Once this remaining sand is eroded there may be over-wash in times of high surf that might impact the grounds or buildings of the nine units located on the site. Finished floor elevations are about 12 feet above grade. The ground floor is not living space per FEMA requirements,” wrote Bullock in an email to town commissioners.

Last year, the town undertook an interim beach renourishment at the north end of the Key to help this highly erosive area of the beach. Bullock said the town placed about $4 million in sand on the north end about one year ago and a survey indicates 50 percent washed away, without a large storm event. The North Shore Road Beach Access was closed for over a year due to the dangerous conditions associated with the loss of sand.

Longbeach Condominiums and 360 North Condominiums have repeatedly been dealing with sand loss and in danger of structural damage due to the buildings’ close proximity to the water when the beach erodes away.

“It appears the sand placed last year has eroded much more quickly than other areas that were nourished during the same time. Realistically, it will be 24 to 36 months until structures are permitted, designed, built and additional sand placed in that location,” wrote Bullock.

Bullock spent all of April 27 with Public Works Director Florensa in Tallahassee vetting the Town’s Beach Maintenance and Inlet Management Plan with the Department of Environmental Protection. That plan is how the Town is ultimately addressing the erosion, but a remedy is more than two years off due to the permitting and mobilization processes.

The town’s engineering firm, Coastal Planning and Engineering (CPE), has determined that the long-term solution to the erosive hot-spot at the north end will be groins, similar to those at the Islander Club on Longboat Key, as well as re-aligning the channel in Longboat Pass. The Town of Longboat Key and Manatee County have been working together to find a solution that does not erode the Manatee County owned Greer Island (Beer Can Island).

The current CPE recommendations are:

• Extend jetty at Coquina Beach (about $4.25 million)

• Construct new jetty on north end of Longboat Key (about $4.25 million)

• Construct two perpendicular groins on north/west end of Longboat Key (about $1.5 million)

• Periodic maintenance dredging of Longboat Pass at four to six year intervals to maintain navigation channel (cost of about $500,000 for each dredge maintenance). Each dredging would generate about 100,000 cubic yards of beach compatible sand to be split 50/50 between Longboat and Anna Maria Island.

Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash has expressed his thoughts on the matter in recent months, with particular concern for Greer Island. He maintains that groins may not even be necessary, and are unsightly. McClash has stated that merely realigning the channel in Longboat Pass will help ease the erosion at Longboat’s north end.

“Once you start down the shoreline groin path you ruin the natural beauty forever,” McClash told Longboat Key News in a previous interview.

McClash attributes much of the erosion problems on the north end 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.

Longboat Key Town Manager David Bullock however feels that the facts of cost and erosion are what count and the time to keep experimenting is over. 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 also maintains that the groins would not be as much of a visual intrusion because they will jut out westerly from the Key, not directly into the channel near the bridge.

 

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