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Editorial Letters – Week ending May 17, 2019

Longboat Key News encourages Letters to the Editor on timely issues. Please email to: letters@lbknews.com or mail to PO Box 8001, Longboat Key, FL 34228. We also print letters sent to Town Hall that address Longboat Key issues. We reserve the right to edit.

Light Pollution

To: Town Commission

Since 2013 we have enjoyed 6 years of winter vacationing on Longboat Key. We routinely stayed in a beachfront rental at Beachplace. We enjoyed the solitude of the evening, the moon and stargazing. We decided to purchase a residence.

I became a property owner, purchasing a condominium residence at the Sanctuary in August of 2018. When we came down for the season, to my dismay, I discovered that the property directly north of the Sanctuary, the Longboat Key Towers, had installed a series of six, 20 ft. tall, pole mounted, very bright mercury lights, along the property line, where the beach and the vegetative dune meet. The lights are apparently on a cell which makes them come on as it gets dark and stay on all night until it is light. They are currently turned off due to turtle season since May 1. Four lights surround the pool area and 100 yards, north and south from the pool, there are pole lights on the very north and southern corner of the property where the dune meets the beach. This light shines onto the Sanctuary property.

The lights are extremely bright and when they are on. The view of the sky or stars are significantly diminished because they light up the whole beach. They have severely diminished the value of our nighttime view, which is one of my favorite things and part of the reason I purchased this beachfront property. I have walked the beach and viewed all developments starting north at Islands West south to the Longboat Key Club and there is no other community which has lights that are similar to the very intrusive mercury lights at the Longboat Key Towers.

I contacted the Longboat Key Towers community and was told that these are “pool lights”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The southern and northern most lights are 150 ft. from the pool and do nothing to light up that area. Furthermore, there is no need for the incredibly bright mercury lights to be used for purposes of pool safety. There is also no reason for the lights to be on from dusk to dawn. I am certain that the pool is not open for use all night. I have no idea why this community was permitted to install these lights since they adversely affect myself and other property owners. I literally must draw down the curtains at night to keep from having the light from the mercury lamps shine into my condominium. It is only since May 1, that I have been able to properly enjoy the view from my balcony, which was one of the reasons I purchased this residence, and not have the light from these lamps shine into my residence.

I have spoken to Chris Elbon of the Codes Enforcement. He informed me that there was nothing he could do. That the codes didn’t encompass light pollution caused by these excessive lights. I would like to ask the Commissioners of Longboat Key, to help me find a solution to this problem. I am requesting that the codes enforcement division investigate these lights and have them permanently turned off, relocated, or significantly diminished, since their design is diminishing the value of my Longboat Key experience and value of my property.

Warren Melamed

Longboat Key

 

Beach Fill – Beachapedia

To: Town Manager Tom Harmer

Reading this article and looking at the situation on the north end, and the history of north end beach management, including hard engineering in the form of groins, which so far have required frequent and expensive replenishment, perhaps retreat is the optimum long-term solution. It should be noted that the beach profile around the groins has steadily deteriorated since the groins were installed, in spite of numerous replenishments that temporarily expand the approximately four hundred foot beach profile between the groins at a cost of $4,000 plus, per foot so far.

What is the point of installing four more quite large groins at the north end, with the stated purpose of retaining more sand in front of 360 North Shore Road, and perhaps Longbeach Condominiums, if the resulting beach experience is no longer enjoyable? Then there is the probable negative impact such a large and numerous groin construction presence will have on adjacent property values.

Retreat, including the extraction of the two existing groins, which have so far required multiple replenishments. a lot of taxpayer dollars, and have starved the adjacent beaches north and south of the groins, and spending the estimated $12 million that is being proposed for the construction of the new groins, plus the millions of dollars that will be required to maintain the six groins going forward, to purchase a few threatened condominium units, and allow the north shore of the island to return to its natural state? The long term saving to the island taxpayers is quite large.

Several years ago, at a workshop where Sand Savers were discussed and rejected by the commission, but should be reexamined, since they are now permitted in Florida, before any groins are constructed, the Army Corps of Engineers representative suggested retreat as one approach to solving the beach erosion problems surrounding large fast moving inlets, not just Longboat Key.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

Correspondence between David Baughman and Project Manager James Linkogle (responding in italics)

In response to your request for information regarding design details and other related elements associated with the North End project, here are a couple of comments compiled in correspondence with our Coastal Engineering Consultant, Dr. Al Browder of Olsen and Associates, generally categorized as follows:

1) Status of modeling efforts for North End project

2) The possibility of moving sand from one portion of the beach to another

3) Comments regarding a ‘wait-and-see’ approach for the northern groins vs. the southern groins

1) Modeling efforts

All modeling necessary for the application of the current permit is in place to support the application process. To be very clear, the Town is not positioned to conduct any additional modeling. I do not believe that I requested new modeling. Modeling of the alongshore sediment transport potential for the north end shoreline was conducted for the sediment budget update, the report of which was turned in late February 2019. For the permit application we developed an excerpt from that modeling, specific to the two southern groins (as4ere well as the northern 3). This is found in Attachment #21 of the permit application itself (see attached PDF). There are also a couple of presentations in which we talked about the erosional processes that the modeling shows, and what we expect the shoreline response to be.

Furthermore, the modeling Olsen conducted is what is called alongshore sediment transport modeling. It is not full Delft3D inlet hydraulics/morphological modeling like CPE/APTIM did several years ago. Early on Olsen agreed with Town Staff that we wouldn’t spend that kind of money, and in our opinion it doesn’t clearly speak to the processes we are interested in for the layout of the structures (hence the reason Olsen did the UNIBEST alongshore transport modeling, which is a model also built by Delft). Respectfully, I have previously said that it should involve more than just the least costly methods used to make judgements where 88 property owners are concerned.

The attached JPG image is from the 2017 presentation to the Commission. The graphic is intended to convey the expected shoreline condition (beach width, essentially), after 2-4 years following construction. The intent of the structures, being permeable to some degree but not as loose as the PAGS, is to slow the erosion rate down along the North End to a point where a renourishment interval of roughly 8 years can be achieved to potentially maintain a traversable, recreational and environmentally conducive habitat.

The attached PDF is Attachment #21 from the permit application. Page 8 of the attachment, figure 21-5, is the primary product from the UNIBEST modeling, it shows the erosional and accretional gradients. The text associated with the graphic explains the results (perhaps not a very simple explanation, but it isn’t a simple process out there).

2) Moving sand from one area to another on Longboat Key’s beaches:

We agree it is something that is potentially permittable. It would, however, be necessary to convince the FDEP that it was a net beneficial idea, meaning it didn’t have any significant adverse impacts to the excavated area. Recognize first that this process does not add any additional sand to the littoral system. I propose that the potential benefit makes this worth at least giving it a try before constructing a permanent and a non-reversible structure, where so many owners quality of beach use and property values are concerned.

In that regard, the volume of sand necessary to make a significant impact should be considered. Given how prior projects have performed, it would be necessary to move a significant volume of sand. For example, the 2016 Longboat Pass project was 30,000 cy (approx.). Thus 30,000cy of sand would need to be removed from, where? Whitney Beach? 30,000 cy in those 25-yard off-road dump trucks is 1,200 round trips. It will leave a noticeably deflated beach area.

For what gain? If nothing is done to check the erosional gradient that exists along and adjacent to that wall, you are throwing money in the ocean. We reference the performance of the 2016 Longboat Pass nourishment (and the 2018 interim fill, and the 2011 Cashman project).

Another complicating factor will be the fact that you remove sand from one area (presumably down closer to Whitney Beach), and create a deficit there (you create a hole, essentially). The shoreline will immediately move to heal itself in that area, thus the draw of sand from adjacent beaches will be exacerbated. We contend, and previous consultants have so stated, that much of the sand we are talking about, originated from our beach area. Returning it made sense then, and makes sense now, of course with study and precision.

Furthermore, there should be no expectation at all that 100% of the sand that got moved and placed would simply end up back at Whitney Beach. Some of it will, for sure. My point exactly, our sand does move south to Whitney beach to some extent, the S2 groin would stop that and build beach back north towards the seawall.

In our Coastal Engineer’s and my opinion, you’d be messing up one segment of the beach in order to not fix another segment of the beach for any reasonable length of time, because the extreme erosional gradient around that seawall has not been checked.

3) A Wait-and-see option for the 2 southern groins

It should be recognized, however, that the construction of the northern three groins will not achieve any shoreline improvement for the beach in front of the seawall nor in front of the Periwinkle building. This is a really important point to grasp. With a transport reversal occurring in the middle of the project area and the presence of the seawall and the existing PAGs, the two project segments do not cast any significant improvement effects to one another. Building them both together does provide some mutual benefit in that it reduces the erosional gradient across the PAG cell, but that’s about it. Without structurally stabilizing the southern segment, the severe erosion rate will continue along the wall and the beach immediately south thereof. My original proposal was to delay construction of the S1 groin only, and to review the effectiveness of the S2 groin on the beach between it and the seawall. This makes the most sense while also restricting the effect on the views of approximately 80 percent of the 88 total units in Longbeach. My 43 years of being in the Periwinkle building as an owner, or as the owners son, has given me a unique knowledge of the beach there and its propensity to change not only in size, but also in the wave tendencies from south to north and vice versa. I have given you pictures of the beach and you have acquired some on your own, that show essentially that the beach has always been considered small, now more so due to the allowance of the sea grape plants. The pdf discussion in section 21, page nine, seems to recognize the variable nature of the modeling information, which I hope gives credence to the concept of delaying the S1 groin only so long as it takes to gauge the success of the S2 groin particularly in view of the dramatic effect on the Longbeach community. Something that won’t be reversible once installed. The S2 groin is the key and is preferable as a means to stabilize the beach going both north and south, assuming that the modeling is accurate with respect to the line where wave and the bottom splits the sand movement.

In this scenario, where would the sand come from to feed the Coquina/Periwinkle area and fix the erosion problem you are waiting to see get fixed? Either the sand has to come from that volume of sand placed in the northern 3-groin project, which won’t happen for the reasons stated above, or you have to place additional sand (presumably unstabilized in this scenario). Note also that:

a) there’s not enough sand to be placed in the northern area to cover the northern area and the southern area in that scenario,

b) the majority of the sand placed along the northern segment will not migrate southward, and you don’t want it to since it is intended to protect the northern segment shoreline,

c) If you placed the southern segment’s sand, but don’t build the structures, you will simply see a near-repeat of the 2016 project because the severe erosional gradient along the seawall and just south thereof is not addressed. This is where we differentiate in our views. If I may say, my view is based on 43 years of living there. The other view is based on computer estimates and one, out of many, studies by one, out of many, consultants. Because there are many owners who’s values and quality of property use, at least partially, hinge on the S1 groin, it seems like a natural option to delay that groin to be sure that it is needed. If there is any possibility that the S1 groin is not needed, or that infrequent and relatively cheap sand can be relocated from nearby to the area between groin S2 and the seawall, I propose that the Commissioners give that a chance. Then, if the beach does not respond favorably, build the groin, and nothing has been lost, while the Commissioners have acted with their usual wisdom and diplomacy.

David Baughman

Longboat Key

 

Request for groin design at Longbeach condominiums

To: Public Works Project Manager James Linkogle

Thank you and Issac for meeting with Bob Appel and I last Friday regarding the proposed two southerly rock groins and their location in front of the Longbeach Condominiums. Bob is the Coastal Chair for the Association, I am a volunteer resident.

We discussed several of the points made during the meeting and I have followed up on the ones that received comment.

First, we have confirmed that moving accreted sand from a southerly location, back to its original location/placement, on our beach, would require a state permit, and that they would want to see a lot of justification before issuing such a permit, but it could be done, and isn’t against a law if done with the permit.

Secondly, we will await the modeling that Olsen has done to show the expected benefit of the rock groin to be placed south and adjacent to the current sea wall at the Coquina building. As you may recall, I have asked that this groin

Be delayed until after the three new northerly groins nearer the inlet be finished and functioning, in order to determine if the southerly rock groin near Coquina, and perhaps the one near the Broadway street access, are even needed.

The modeling results will help us evaluate the potential for meaningful success. If the benefits are relatively small, by delaying the city would save the expense too. We are asking for the same approach that the Commissioners would like from Sarasota regarding the new roundabout. Wait for the results of the other changes, turn lane, etc. before committing to the roundabout and its potential impact on traffic and evacuations.

Given the rarity of installing such groins, that will have dramatic effect on the recreational value of the private residences, the property value impact, and the environmental and visual degradation, I wanted to encourage patience before taking the risk of there being minimal positive impact as is suggested by the history of that small area of beach and its success in regulating itself. I have personally been a continuous user of that beach since 1976. When do you think you will be sending modeling visuals?

David Baughman

Longboat Key

 

Delay groin S1

To: David Baughman

David, looking at what has transpired since the present groins were installed, one can see that beaches north and south of the groins have been starved from day one. If the groins were not adjacent to a fast large inlet, they might perform closer to the engineer’s beach model. The groin at the Colony has performed well, but is far from strong tidal currents. Talking to a beach engineering engineer on the east coast, they did not believe that groins are the best answer and will not perform well, just because there are two strong currents interacting at the mouth of an inlet, depending on the direction of the tidal flow. The engineer said the same thing about the two existing groins. You may remember that I forwarded this to the town at that time.

When water is being sucked into the inlet, due to tidal water level differences, then there is scuffing from south to north on our side of the inlet. At the same time the northward, Beer Can Island shore is being starved. The opposite occurs on the out tide. Beaches on either side of the groin field are both scuffed and starved.

I am concerned that the town is not looking at existing groin sand losses data over the past few years. I find their eight-year renourishment projection perhaps suspect, since the last million-dollar groin sand replenishment lasted less than a week.

Adding more groins will have only a minor effect on this push-pull tidal dynamic.

Additionally, the new and much longer groins may seriously interfere and alter the natural littoral sand drift coming from Anna Maria, headed southward. This could have a severe impact on beaches south of the Longbeach complex, starving the very beaches the town is so worried about if some of 400+ foot beach at Sea Pines and Whitney is used to save building at Longbeach. Those beaches use to be 100 feet wide, not 400 feet.

I believe the town needs to pause and seek additional information, before wasting more millions on another destructive groin fiasco that further erodes surrounding property values. Are there other similar projects, of groins being installed adjacent to a large fast inlet? I have looked at every inlet in Florida, and there are no groins near those two dozen inlets.

The town needs to see multiple examples of where the proposed groin design has performed well and for a period of time. If there are none, then the town needs to walk away from being pioneers again.

The proposed groins are enormous. They will completely dominate any remaining beach experience. I cannot believe there are not better and more cost effective ways to keep sand on the north end beaches.

Retreat might be a more desirable solution, as opposed to destroying any semblance of a tropical island beach ambiance at one of the most beautiful beach runs in the world.

I believe removing the existing disastrous groins, and letting nature once again create a beautiful natural beach is the best solution, to what has been an ongoing extremely costly failure and eyesore at the north end.

I know that all people visiting the north end will hate what the town is doing there, just for the sake of a few condominium units.

Gene Jaleski

Longboat Key

 

PACE Financing Options

To: Mayor George Spoll

Below is the response received from Sarasota County regarding PACE projects for condo associations – common areas. Please share with the Federation of Condo members.

I wanted to get back to you on your question about PACE financing for condos. I am sorry it has taken a while, but I was hoping for more responses from the providers, as they committed to look into it and get back to me. I don’t want to wait any longer, so below is a summary of the information I was provided. It seems that YGrene, which is the provider currently offering financing to the Town residents on your Sarasota County side, is open to the possibility. I am sure they would be willing to talk with your condo association representatives to explore further. Counterpointe is also open to discussing, although they are not yet approved to operate.

I hope that provides somewhat helpful next steps for now until additional providers are approved to offer the financing in your jurisdiction. Just let me know if you have further questions or input.

Lee Hayes

Sarasota

 

Response from YGrene (Kate Wesner kate.wesner@ygrene.com) :

Ygrene is able to finance improvements for condo associations. We had a recent scenario in Florida where a condo Board wanted to enter into a PACE transaction to finance improvements for common areas. This is allowed as long as the Board has the authority according to the bylaws or obtains approval from the Members of the HOA. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Notes: This is the only provider currently serving Town residents in Sarasota County.

I asked these further questions and they said they would look into it: Was that condo able to make it happen? If so, do you have examples of the language that gave them that authority? Is it PACE specific or some other more vague approval?

 

Response from FL Development Finance Corporation (Ryan Bartkus rbartkus@fdfcbonds.com ):

In regards to the condos associations, it is my understanding that these projects would be considered under commercial PACE (C-PACE) only. Our initial providers (Renovate America and PACE Funding Group) are residential PACE providers only. However, we have on-boarded multiple C-PACE providers that I can forward this request to, but they are just becoming familiar with Sarasota’s program approval requirements.

 

Response from Renovate America (An administrator for FDFC; Dustin Reilich dreilich@renovateamerica.com):

Unfortunately our program is for residential only with 4 or fewer units. Some of the commercial providers may be able to assist but I am not able to speak for them. Thank you for your inquiry.

Note: These are not yet approved to operate in Sarasota County and I have not yet received their documents for review.

 

Response from Counterpointe Energy Solutions (dnirmul@counterpointees.com):

1st email: We have been doing new construction condos with PACE which are much less challenging than existing condo buildings. I’m still trying to get a better understanding of how we’ve handled/what are the minimum requirements for a successful existing condo building PACE retrofit based on past experiences…I will try to get more information on existing condo project procedures.

2nd email: Based on the specific and unique characteristics of each condo property, we feel the best approach to broach any interest amongst condo associations is to speak with the individual condo association representatives interested in PACE initially by phone. If that initial inquiry results in the high likelihood that a workable PACE transaction is possible and has full support of all of the ownership or some agreement amongst all owners (or some proxy for the entire ownership) to support using PACE, we can attempt to arrange follow-up meetings to move ahead on deeper due-diligence, proposals, etc.

Note: They are not yet approved to operate in Sarasota County. I have just recently submitted their approval request and I will be reviewing in the next couple weeks.

Trish Granger

Town Clerk

Longboat Key

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