South end beach erosion causes condo concerns

Associate Publisher

Sweeping erosion of the south end beaches in front of condominiums within the Longboat Key Club over the past few months has caused consternation among residents at L’Ambiance and adjacent properties.

Larry Merriman, president of L’Ambiance Condominium Association said the beach in front of the condominiums has eroded slowly over the past year, and significantly over the past few months. Merriman said the erosion has moved to the protective sand dunes and vegetation in front of the buildings.

“Once it gets to the dunes it’s not good; we’ve got real problems, it will wash out the vegetation. In the past few months, the erosion has gone gangbusters; I don’t know why,” said Merriman.

Beverly Moore, General Manager of L’Ambiance wrote a letter to town commissioners iterating the sentiment.

“L’Ambiance, The Pierre, Regent Place, and The Sanctuary are currently experiencing an extreme loss of beach, large drop offs at the water’s edge, and water encroaching the protected dune areas, all of which leaves us vulnerable to strong storm damage and land loss. We realize that our town’s most productive resources are in jeopardy. These issues may seem confined to our shores, but in truth, the consequences of a fragile coast ripples far inland. The town’s economic growth, community resiliency, and environmental sustainability all tie back to our coast. As an environmental treasure, the coast is truly vital to our town and the long-term economics of the communities that border it. We are asking the town to not wait for a disaster to happen before taking action, but to address the issue with the utmost urgency. We would appreciate any opportunity to discuss mitigation of the issue,” wrote Moore.

Public Works Director Juan Florensa agrees with Merriman, “That’s an area (south end) that is eroding and is in need of renourishment.”

Florensa said the last time the south end was renourished was in 2005 during the last island-wide beach renourishment project. The town commission had abandoned the traditional beach renourishment projects that placed sand along all of the 11-mile stretch of Longboat Key beaches several years ago in favor of a ‘hot-spot treatment’ approach to placing sand only in places where and when it was needed. The spot treatment approach was adopted in an effort to save money, and to date most of the renourishments have occurred at the north end where there is currently severe erosion as well. Town Manager David Bullock said that the current north end renourishment will begin on May 5 and place sand from Broadway Beach Access to North Shore Road.

The town’s previous beach renourishment schedule would be to place sand along all of Longboat’s beaches from north to south, and do it every six years. The money used to pay for any of the multi-million dollar beach renourishments comes out of Tourist Development Tax, State and Federal Government reimbursements and Longboat property owner’s beach tax.

Florensa said that although the town has permits in hand for any type of renourishment, the earliest he says the town could place the sand would be the summer of 2015. This, he says, is due to the fact that the town commission would have to approve any type of renourishment plan, island-wide or hot-spot, based on the recommendation of the town’s beach engineers; and then place the project out to bid and hire a construction firm for the job.

Bullock agrees with Florensa’s Summer 2015 time frame.

“I don’t see it happening any faster than that. Maybe if we’re timely we could shave a couple of months off, but his estimate is right,” said Bullock.

Florensa said the beach engineers do a survey of Longboat’s beaches every year and are due to perform one in June. The survey will be presented to the town commission shortly thereafter, and Florensa said he will be bringing whatever the beach engineers’ findings and recommendations are before the town commission in the Fall of 2014.

“We’ll be talking to the commission in the coming fall, but we want them to make a determination. The town commission needs to give direction as to whether to do the entire 11 miles or just certain spots,” said Florensa.

According to Merriman, he, Bullock, Florensa and town staff will be meeting on May 8 to discuss the erosion problem at the south end.





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