High costs force Town to shift beach strategy

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Longboat Key Public Works Director Juan Florensa apprised the Town Commission on the state of the beach and the state of the Town’s stalled beach renourishment policy.

The renourishing of hotspots and sand for two planned groins is on hold after bids came in at 40% over budget.

The reason for the high bids, according to staff, is the consequence of Hurricane Sandy and the near $1 billion in sand projects that has the industry using all of its equipment to fulfill numerous contracts. In short: the dredges are in high demand and we would have to pay an additional $4 million mobilization cost to get a barge and dredger to our area from the Northeast where they are located.

The Town Manager recommended and the Commission decided to hold off on the planned renourishment and instead Florensa gave a State of the Beach report at the Monday, June 17 workshop.

Florensa said the Villa Am Meer residence has an 85-foot beach and is in a high erosion area. Villa De Lancia has a nearly 300-foot beach from high water line to the nearest shoreline structure on the property.

Sea Place has 210 feet of dry beach and marks the southernmost point that would have received sand from the beach renourishment on hold.

Next, Florensa showed pictures taken showing water inundating a seawall. Also, reported Florensa, the seawall along Longbeach Condominiums eroded behind the seawall.

Town Manager Dave Bullock summed up the situation: “We were unable to bring in a reasonably priced contract. The question we have is what level of protection of upland structure do we provide? The presence of seawalls is a factor, but not enough. We have some critical areas that need attention and we need to get on it. That being said, it is hard to spend $13 million for a $9 million project.”

As a going-forward strategy, Bullock said his intent is to combine the structures, the renourishment the Town had planned and combine them into one larger project that would not occur until next year. “There is some exposure,” Bullock added referring to the possibility of structural flooding or damage if a large storm came through.

Bullock said he had asked three Town-contracted beach engineers what to do and Olsen Engineering gave the clearest direction. Their recommendation was not to accept the bid and thought the cost was not justified. They recommend the Town change our areas we talked about and make it a bigger project said Bullock.


State of the groin structures

Bullock said he believes we are making progress toward getting the state Department of Environmental Protection permit. Bullock said the state has all the information necessary to approve or deny the permit. Florensa said they could issue the permit as soon as this summer. As for the Federal approval, the Town is waiting for the requisite questions from Federal agencies that must be answered prior to approval.

As an alternative idea, resident and former Commissioner Gene Jaleski suggested micro dredging be considered wherein, as he explained, a one-man operation for less than $1 million per year moves sand from prolific areas to sand starved areas and works the coastline year-round optimizing the shoreline with a small dredge.

On the wildlife front, resident Larry Grossman said the current beach profile and escarpments are not conducive to turtle nesting and are causing obstacles.

The Commission gave Bullock consensus to follow his beach plan for a larger project next year.

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2 Responses for “High costs force Town to shift beach strategy”

  1. Ghostrider says:

    Ms. Arsenault wrote:

    “I hope the town realizes how important the beach is to the continued growth of LBK.”

    I’m confused. I thought you did NOT want continued growth and development.

    BTW, the ocean always writes the last chapter.

  2. Anne Arsenault says:

    As one who lives on the beach and cares for it deeply, I hope the town realizes how important the beach is to the continued growth of LBK. Erosion is a sad fact that LBK must deal with. We on the north end have seen our beaches diminish and pray that we can trust our town to protect them, but we often feel neglected. Even if you do not live on a beach, you must realize that LBK needs its beaches. When we start going north or south to find a decent beach, LBK will no longer be desirable.

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