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LBK Beach plan moves forward But will it be enough?

MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

The ‘hot spot’ of beach erosion in front of Longbeach Condominiums and 360 North Condominiums has long been a challenge for Longboat Key beach engineers. The town’s beach maintenance plan which currently consists of spot beach renourishment and five groins at the north end, is moving forward after this week’s commission workshop, but it may not be fast enough for some beach residents.

One resident from Longbeach Condominium’s Coquina building, which is situated right next to the beach and has a seawall, spoke out at the workshop on Tuesday.

“We (at Longbeach Condominium) wanted to fast track the second part of the application, with the southernmost groins. The water is routinely coming up over the seawall, and it is hitting sod and grass. We’ve had irrigation pipes exposed in the Coquina building. I live in the Coquina building, it’s really an emergency right now,” said the resident.

She also stated that the condominium has surveyed its unit owners, and reported that of 73 owners (out of 88) that responded, 70 percent were in favor of the groins.

Planning and Building Department Director Isaac Brownman informed the commission that he, his staff and the town’s engineering firm Olsen Associates, Inc., had met with residents from Longbeach condominiums, as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Dr. Al Browder of Olsen Associates noted how the town staff and his company had been working on updating the beach renourishment plan after the 2008 renourishment. The current beach design states that a 120-foot width of the beach should be maintained as the profile, which is based on 1993’s vegetation line.

After a brief discussion informing the commission on the town’s southernmost smaller erosional areas, Browder informed the commission of the current plans regarding the north end beach stabilization where Longbeach Condominiums are located.

The northern segment of the project will involve placing three permeable rock groin structures and 140,000 cubic yards of sand. Then on the southern segment where Longbeach Condominium is located, two permeable rock groin structures will be constructed and 40,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed.

“At the FDEP meeting it was suggested that the plan be split up into two separate permits, one with the northernmost groins, and one with the southernmost groins. The best plan is to build three at the northernmost point of the island,” said Browder.

Browder also addressed the additional portion of land that has grown due to sand accretion on the north-eastern corner of Greer Island, and if it continues, will close in that area forming a lagoon.

“When you look at the historical aerial photography, you can see that spit of land at the north end grow. It is a result of the sand you have fed it from all the renourishments and the dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Trying to maintain feed to that area will be difficult. One of our colleagues is working on permit applications to open that up. At a minimum, we will want to shave a portion off at the east side of the lagoon. The permitting process is underway. It’s more a question of how many pounds of flesh are going to be extracted,” said Browder.

Browder stated the current estimated cost of the northern and southern groins would be $13.68 million and the cost of beach maintenance over 16 years would be $8.05 million, for a total cost of $21.73 million.

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