The Challenge of Sand Key Renourishment
By Anne McKay Garris
A long time ago it was decided that the white sand beaches of Florida were a decided asset and vastly important to our tourist industry, therefore our pocketbooks. Thus the State Legislature created a Florida Beach Management Program. Research determined that upland development in Florida needed to be at least 75 feet away from the Gulf and ocean waters in order to be protected. Thus an Erosion Control Line was established and the custom was begun to renourish beaches where there was less that 75 feet of beach left beyond the Erosion Control Line.
After considerable debate and the agreement of Sand Key property owners to provide certain public access to the beach, the State, in 1999 and again in 2006, renourished Sand Key Beach to protect the considerable property values on the barrier island.
At last week's Sand Key Civic Association meeting, Nick Frishe reported to the board on the status of the current efforts to get the island of Sand Key (which extends all the way to Redington Beach) renourished again in 2011, as it has been established that renourishment is necessary approximately every 4 to 6 years. Although current prices are not yet determined, the renourishment of Sand Key in the nineties was approximately $25 million.
According to Frishe's report, the departure of the coastal coordinator from the Pinellas County staff is a major problem for moving the next renourishment project forward. Thus the Army Corps of Engineers has been requested to assume the permitting responsibilities which the County Coordinator would have done. Additional challenges are the increasing difficulty in finding "beach quality" sand to use in the renourishment and a law suit against the establishment of the Erosion Control Line. The State Supreme Court ruled for the State of Florida in this lawsuit, brought by some property owners in the Pan Handle, but it has now been accepted by the Supreme Court for hearing.
Nevertheless the hopeful deadline for awarding a contract for renourishing of Sand Key Beach is set (for now) at August of 2010.
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