Beach plan scrutiny intensifies

Editor & Publisher

Longboat Key resident and former Commissioner Gene Jaleski has joined the fight against the Town’s plan to install beach groins to maintain sand on the northern tip of the 10-mile island.

And the Town is fighting back, not only against Jaleski, but also against former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash. McClash, along with Jaleski, has petitioned the State to perform an administrative review of its intent to permit two beach groins and one terminal jetty.

Jaleski contends that the State has failed to perform various impact studies that they should have, including the potential impact on wetlands.

Jaleski says the Town has sought to have his complaint thrown out because he responded after the 14-day response period. However, Jaleski said the Town failed to notify the condominium association where he owns property 200 feet from the proposed groin at end of Northshore Road. Jaleski’s family has owned a unit at Longbeach Condominiums since 1978.

Last week, Longboat Key News reported that McClash too, has filed an appeal for various reasons including the loss and degradation of fishing and recreational uses that affect tens of thousands of area residents and visitors. Both complaints are based on a failure to notify affected parties.

Jaleski takes issue because he believes the proposed groins are not necessary and are damaging. He says the Town should build a Jetty at the inlet — a jetty and no groins. Jaleski argues that groins are simply made to control shoreline.

“You do not put groins near an inlet, it exacerbates damage to the inlet,” said Jaleski. “It will cost taxpayers millions to fill in the sand and the damage the groins will do,” he added.

Jaleski said the problem of erosion at Beer Can Island is the result of the Town removing all the Australian Pines that anchored the sand.

“If you were here 20 years ago, the whole shoreline of the Gulf on Beer Can Island was full of Australian Pines — fallen and standing. It was a wicket of sand retention. They were so thick you could not get through them. Hundreds of trees over time had fallen and grown and locked in and stabilized the shoreline. After the Town removed the pines, the shoreline eroded rapidly.”

Jaleski recommends the jetty at the inlet, but does not recommend groins at all.

According to the state, if a person can show substantial interest as an affected party, they may petition for an administrative hearing. That hearing is designed to reconsider the FDEP’s final decision. Affected parties have 14 days to file such a petition and that is what McClash did on July 5.


Town shifts strategy

Town Manager Dave Bullock told the Town Commission that another opinion about the Town’s beach plan and strategy is in order. To that end, the Town will pay Jacksonville-based Olsen Associates $121,800 to perform the review over the next six months.

Bullock, in his memo to town commissioners writes:

“I wanted to provide you a short progress update on the next steps and direction on the beach sand nourishment project. We have engaged Olsen Associates Inc. (Jacksonville, FL) to evaluate and reformulate the beach management/beach nourishment plans for the Town.

Major tasks for this work include:

· Evaluate in detail the near-term (the previously proposed and  advertised) beach project to determine if it is warranted or feasible, and/or not advisable in the 2014 timeframe

· Evaluate a broader-scale renourishiment to determine need for other sand placement locations

· Provide recommendations for near-and long- term project strategies for nourishment of the Town’s beaches, using offshore, inlet, and/or upland sand sources

· If warranted, formulate a design-development level plan intended to be prepared and advertised for bids in 2014

· Present the findings and recommendations to the Town Commission

Much of the current analysis and data gathering would directly support an update to the Town’s Beach Management Plan that was last updated in 2008. A shoreline and bathymetric survey along with digital aerial ortho photography of the entire shoreline is currently underway and will support this work. Survey work should be completed in the next 30 days. It will take approximately 150 days to complete all of the tasks associated with this work.”


History of the approach

Prior to the groin plan, the town’s strategy to address erosion on the north end was to use beach renourishments about every six years. That cycle was abandoned two years ago when the commission wanted to avoid asking taxpayers to spend nearly $30 million, and they opted for a ‘hot spot’ approach and the use of the structures at the north end. Since that time, the town has run into two problems with its strategy. First, a Port Dolphin pipeline project has not commenced. That project accounted for $5 million as a negotiated settlement to be used by the town for beach renourishment. Port Dolphin was to pay the town that money because the town said its pipeline would impact its sand borrow sites offshore.

The other hitch came this spring when the town received only one response from an engineering firm to perform the town’s $9 million beach renourishment. The problem was that the firm’s bid costs $5 million more than the town had budgeted or assumed due to mobilization costs of the dredge. That left the town seeking to consolidate its groin building with the beach renourishment and the town, if the state permit is issued, will begin construction of the groins next year.



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3 Responses for “Beach plan scrutiny intensifies”

  1. Ghostrider says:

    It’s a rather expensive exercise in futility with rising oceans and storms dictating the terms of engagement.
    Are you planning to renourish the beaches every year? If so, I hope the bidding is competitive. I know at least of one firm that will gladly take your money on a yearly basis.

  2. GVH says:

    The importance of having a beautiful, well maintained beach on LBK can not be understated. I am concerned however that employing another consultation, based on past history, will only provide a new set of proposed recommendations that the Town residents and Commissioners will argue about forever and spin us all into another web of inaction. I live here year round and walk the beach not less than 3 times a week. The deterioration of sand quality and recreational beach depth is getting quite noticeable. Please do not let another expensive opinion delay the obvious need for renourishment and beautification.

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