Sand won’t stick to North Longboat Key
The North-end beach on Longboat Key presents a costly conundrum for the Town Commission.
Last Monday, the Town transferred about $385,550 to fund a detailed analysis and engineering report to help address the ever-shifting shoreline and rapidly eroding Beer Can Island.
At the meeting last Monday, Town Manager Dave Bullock said that in his “layman’s viewpoint” the two groins that were recently installed on the North End have not helped much in retaining sand in front of Longbeach Condominiums.
“The seawall is probably the only reason the Coquina Building at Longbeach Condominiums is still there. I have concurred that under the current setup it will not be possible to retain sand in front of that seawall,” said Bullock.
Bullock told Longboat Key News that the groins appear to be very effective in retaining sand and preventing erosion to the north in front of 360 North Condominium, but it is to the south that the bare seawall remains unprotected. He said the seawall has been in place for 40 years and has been the best defense for the Coquina building and has not been breached since no mega-storm has hit the Key.
Vice Mayor Phill Younger said at the meeting that the Town should consider placing a much coarser grain of sand in the vicinity of the groins.
Longboat commissioners and the Town residents have historically desired sugar-white sand, but the smaller grains have less adhesion qualities and are prone to faster rates of erosion. Bullock agreed with Younger’s sentiment.
The money that was approved for the study last Monday, is left over from last year’s dredge and beach maintenance projects as well as the truck hauling projects.
The town’s beach engineer, Olson and Associates, will consider several of the shifting dynamics in its analysis and Bullock hopes to have their report in hand by summer so the commission can choose among options. One of the concerns is the erosion of Greer Island and the movement of that sand toward the Longboat Pass Bridge where its accumulation is gradually choking off the lagoon that currently serves as a tidal estuary in front of numerous North Shore Road properties.
Bullock said that it is important to maintain the flow to that lagoon or the estuary will transform into a hyper-saline environment.
Olson and Associates did perform a peer review on the potential effectiveness of the groins that were installed, but their design and recommendation came from the town’s previous beach engineer, Coastal Planning and Engineering. The rapid erosion on the northwest tip of Longboat Key is in large part due to the inlet currents and the confluence of the Gulf and the lack of a terminal groin, which was proposed and approved by the state but not built due to a court challenge and settlement agreement.
Resident Gene Jaleski, who fought the north end terminal groin, along with former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, said the two groins should be removed.
“I’ve never seen sand loss from the beach as rapidly as I have in my 35 years I’ve been here,” said Jaleski.
Bullock cautioned against making assumptions or unrealistic expectations of the groins and said, “they are holding sand and protecting upland structures. That was the goal.”
Bullock added, “It was clear and both the state and engineer said there would be significant erosion on the northern tip of the island without a terminal groin.”