City secures grants for beach access improvements

Special to the PRESS

January 15, 2015

Monday afternoon, the Shoreline Task Force met for their first meeting of the year. Coastal Resource and Parks Administrator Reuben Treviño represented city staff to update the task force on beachfront construction projects as well as on grant funds that have been awarded. The task force also elected a Chairman and Vice Chairman for 2015.

Chairman Paul Munarriz welcomed new member Virginia Guillot to the task force and proceeded to the process of elections. Both Munarriz and Troy Giles were reelected to continue in their positions as Chairman and Vice Chairman for the year. Munarriz thanked the group for their confidence.

During public comments, Treviño shared with the task force that the city was selected to receive two out of four grants that had been recommended by the Shoreline Task Force and applied for with this state last October.

The Moonlight Circle beach access currently has a Mobi-Mat and a parking area, and the state has awarded a $90,000 grant to add a walkover with a rinse station. The city will split the cost contributing an additional $90,000. The second grant will also be funded as a 50/50 split and will be for the development of the Ocean Circle beach access that is so far completely undeveloped. The city and the state will each contribute $150,000 to add a walkover and parking area. The two grants that were not selected this year were for parking improvements to Gulf Boulevard as well as for improvements to the Poinsettia beach access. Funding will be awarded October 1st of next year and will be included in the budget for the next fiscal year with a total of $240,000 in grants received.

Treviño also updated the task force on beach access improvements that are being made by the Beach Maintenance Department, the first being the replacement of hand rails at the Neptune Beach Access. They have recently focused on the Aquarius Access adding plumbing upgrades and revamping the site by power washing and recoating the wood.

Another important aspect of beach maintenance is the Beneficial Use of Dredge Material (BUDM) project that takes sand from the channel and deposits it onto the beach to maintain the shoreline is continuously affected by erosion. The project is scheduled for the fall, so staff is currently working to renew the permit that is set to expire in December of 2015 to be allowed to renourish the beaches as needed. With expansion of the city to the north, city staff has concerns about the erosion and the amount of sand that will be required to replace what is lost. Currently, the BUDM project provides the beaches with 175,000 to 200,000 cubic yards of sand from the channel, just enough to renourish the sand that is lost on the beach each year. With growth to the north, staff needs to find other means of erosion prevention. In reference to the project, Treviño said, “I think we definitely have to keep thinking outside of the box. We’ve got to come up with an idea to solve the problem because all we’re doing right now is putting a Band-Aid on it.” He added that Clayton’s future pier could potentially aid in erosion prevention by breaking up wave energy in the erosion hotspot.  The task force recommended that they continue to explore further solutions.

The Shoreline Task force also approved a beachfront construction certificate to extend an existing walkover to the line of vegetation at 3700 Gulf Boulevard. The walkover currently sits west of the vegetation line, so the property owner plans to follow the pedestrian path, causing minimal damage to vegetation.

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