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Islandside must weather receding beach

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

In the face of Islandside condominium owners who have expressed “extreme concern” over the state of their “nonexistent beach,” the Longboat Key town commission decided it was too costly and would not make strategic sense to place truck hauled sand as a temporary solution before a beach renourishment.

At last Wednesday’s commission workshop, two alternatives were presented as possible ways to restore a recreational beach to the highly eroded shoreline in front of L’Ambiance, Sanctuary and The Pierre condominiums.

The first method was to scrape sand from the vicinity of The Colony to the north and transport it. The other method was to truck in sand from a mainland quarry. Both measures would cause disruption with hundreds of trucks passing through the Islandside community and would only provide a minimal recreational beach for less than a year until a larger renourishment project using sand dredged from New Pass is slated to commence.

The town’s beach consultant told the commissioners that a permit to scrape or transport sand could not be obtained until about April 2015, and the cost to transport and obtain the sand would be $300,000 to $700,000.

According to the town, very little recreational beach remains and the vegetated dune system is now suffering erosion.

Public Works Director Juan Florensa wrote that it is not desirable to lose vegetated dunes in front of upland structures or in front of the seawall that protects Longboat Key Towers to the north.

Florensa wrote in a memo that removing sand from around The Colony would require the closing of approximately 1-2 miles of beach between The Colony and L’Ambiance to allow off road trucks to transport the sand. He added that consideration should be given to the fact that any sand placed as an interim option “will likely only survive only one winter storm event.”

The issue of the severe beach erosion at the island’s southernmost condominiums was brought to the town’s attention last spring when L’Ambiance wrote a letter to the Town Manager Dave Bullock asking for help. The commission asked Bullock to present options and now, six months later, The Pierre condominium has weighed in as well.

The community association manager Margaret Suarez wrote Bullock that, “At a recent meeting of The Pierre condominium, several of our owners expressed extreme concern over the state of our non-existent beach. As it now stands, at high tide we have no beach to speak of. They are concerned that the length of time that this condition has existed and so far nothing has been done.”

Suarez added in her letter that if the planned 2013 beach renourishment had occurred, they would not be facing the current situation.

“In addition, we are seeing property values decrease due to the lack of beach and we also have concerns that this will affect our dunes,” wrote Suarez.

She also expressed concern over substantial property damage if there is a major storm.

Commissioner Phill Younger was not happy with the high cost of what he called “sacrificial sand” that would be placed in front of the condominiums.

The commission turned to Bullock and asked for his thoughts on the issue.

“My heart goes out to those who are there, they are caught without a recreational beach. Some of these places have a couple of hundred feet of vegetative dune and they do have protection of their buildings. I struggle with the expenditure of funds, yet these are some of the highest property values on the key and they set the image for the key and they really do have one of the worst recreational beaches on the key,” said Bullock.

Then Vice Mayor Jack Duncan asked why the town could not provide a tram or bus so people in the vicinity could be taken to the area near The Colony beach which is still in good condition. That idea did not gain traction.

Commissioner Terry Gans suggested that, “As much as owners do not like it, people can walk down and use the beach in front of the Key Club’s Inn on the Beach.”

Bullock said that this idea was correct and that the Key Club’s beaches are pretty healthy.

Gans said, “I do not want to say ‘Let them eat cake’ or ‘Let them pound sand’ but they may have to make it through the season without a recreational beach.”

The commission decided that it would not spend money on a temporary sand measure, and asked the town manager to help educate residents and explain to them the magnitude of the beach that will come in front of their condominiums when New Pass is dredged and to help explain to them that they can use the beach to the south in front of the Key Club property.

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3 Responses for “Islandside must weather receding beach”

  1. ghostrider says:

    I visited Las Olas Blvd in Ft. Lauderdale recently. The water is at eye level. LB looks better, but, in both cases the ocean will prevail. Any sand that you bring in will be reclaimed.
    Global climate change is a reality.

  2. Georgie McFarland says:

    Time to elect some new Commissioners and end STUPIDITY!

  3. David Baughman says:

    it is clear that the town still does not get it when it comes to beaches, and taxpayers, who have paid mightily over the years for the beaches in front of their homes.
    the town manager has proven to have no sense of the entitlement attitude that island residents have for the beach, or for that matter the canals.
    the taxpayers have and still do pay for the beaches. the commissioners should plan for beach restoration.
    why is there no ongoing program to anticipate the need for permits so that they are already in process and then can be used in a timely manner where needed? the suspicion is that the town is using the permit timing to delay allocating the funds to address beach issues.
    we used to have regular renourishment of the beaches because the army corps of engineers was dredging the passes on a regular basis, now that that isn’t the case, our town management have to up their game and be proactive.
    seriously, bus owners up and down the key, have them walk miles to use the beaches of others, and even if the commissioner didn’t want to say let them eat cake, that is exactly what is being said.

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