Thursday, February 18, 2016

U.S. Army Corps Proposes $66M to Shore Up 9.8 miles: Time for St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore

Sure, lets spend $66 million to shore up 9.8 million of beachfront property in South Ponte Vedra, Vilano Bach and Summer Haven for the benefit of wealthy beach front property owners, and preventing A1A from being washed out.
Why, that's only $6,734,693.87 per mile.
BUT "We, the People" must get something in return:
1. No more interference with beach access by St. Johns County's gotcha government.
2. Enactment of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore.
Now is the time -- Our Nation's Oldest City and surrounding counties will be allowed to achieve our destiny -- a national park and seashore that protects us from coastal erosion with coherent multi-county planning and preserves and protects what we love forever, for your grandchildren and their grandchildren.

Army Corps considering renourishment for Vilano, South Ponte Vedra beaches
Posted: February 18, 2016 - 11:20pm | Updated: February 18, 2016 - 11:28pm
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tentatively recommending shoreline renourishment for part of Vilano Beach and South Ponte Vedra Beach, but those plans could change.

The corps recently released a nearly 200-page report on its website, outlining a “tentatively selected plan” for the part of the coastline that’s been studied. The vulnerability of State Road A1A is a key part of the discussion.

The Corps of Engineers looked at ways of reducing coastal damage risks for about 9.8 miles of beach out of about 42 miles of St. Johns County’s coastline — 3.8 miles in South Ponte Vedra, 3.7 miles in Vilano Beach and 2.3 miles in Summer Haven, according to an email from the corps.

The tentative plan, which could change based on public input, “includes beach and dune nourishment within the Vilano Beach area and a small portion of the South Ponte Vedra Beach,” according to the email.

The plan is to build a 60-foot berm extension as well as maintenance of existing dunes “along 2.6 miles, approximately from the southern end of the Seranata Beach Club to San Pelayo Court.”

If approved and funded, the corps expects nourishment to be done every 12 years.

“Initial construction would use about 1.3 million cubic yards of material and the periodic nourishments would use roughly 866,000 cubic yards each,” according to the corps.

But the project would be costly, and it is not clear whether it would get enough financial support to get off the ground.

The cost estimate is $66 million. Federal dollars would pay for 22 percent of initial construction and about 17 percent of the nourishments, according to the email. The rest of the funding would have to come from non-federal dollars.

The plan is in the public comment period until April 4. A decision by the agency is scheduled for May. Following that, the plan would go to the civil works review board in January. The final stage would be a report from the chief of engineers in May 2017, according to the email.

The vulnerability of State Road A1A to erosion in the area is one factor in the tentative plan to nourish beaches. The road is part of a hurricane evacuation route.

During a storm event, the road starts to erode underneath, said Susan Jackson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District.

“So what you don’t want [is] two or three days into a tropical storm, for instance, for that road to collapse,” Jackson said.

Neal Shinkre, public works director for St. Johns County, said the study is the corps’ project, though the county has partially funded it. He said the plan is to brief the County Commission on the study.

If the study is finalized and the project is recommended for funding, officials will evaluate it like other capital projects, he said.

Shinkre said previously that the process began with the areas being designated as critically eroded. And more than 10 years ago the County Commission supported working with the corps for the renourishment feasibility study for the critically eroded areas.

St. Augustine Beach already has an agreement with the corps for renourishment.

Vivian Browning, president of the Vilano Beach Main Street group, said residents of the area and to the north have seen funds for renourishment going to St. Augustine Beach, and that has been a concern.

Vilano Beach is one of St. Johns County’s critically eroded areas, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Residents in Vilano Beach and north have seen erosion and some homes compromised, Browning said.

“When the northeasters come or if we have a major hurricane, it could undermine some of the houses,” she said.

DavidWiles 02/19/16 - 11:02 am 12Hard to swallow this 'nourishment' hope
Three thoughts after reading the nourishment article:

1) headlines in today's Tampa Bay Times: FEMA money will not go to states that deny climate change.
Yes, we have hurricanes and flood disasters that are called 'catastrophe' and we expect federal dollars and assistance from FEMA. But Florida also has Rick Scott who has made is Governorship a cornerstone of ideological blindness and refuses to let state agencies under his Executive branch plan for or even mention 'climate change.' Couple the Scott blocking of possible FEMA panning funds with a state legislature where 83 House members recently voted to approve fracking 'because DEP would do a study of risks and there would be fines for chemicals if polluting water resources occur.' In short, Florida will not be an automatic recipient of federal funds for rising sea levels or what creates erosion.

2) The US Corps of Engineers do a study and identify 9.2 miles of St. Johns beaches that need immediate and reoccurring 'nourishment.' Several miles of that identified area are so dangerous to A1A and resident homes that only 'stone revetments' ( think around Summer Haven or St. Augustine inlet jetty) have a chance at 'nourishment.' The continuing sand only give away like is done for St. Augustine Beach municipality is supposed to last three years and is lucky to make three months before all eroded away. But dredging sand on to Florida beaches to be swept away by the next storm is a mainstay of Florida business depending on the public dollar trough. And there is nothing like those continuing contracts when it is like double down on an initial bad bet.

Where the second layer of stupid comes in is the Corps estimate of actual public money by source: "The cost estimate is $66 million. Federal dollars would pay for 22 percent of initial construction and about 17 percent of the nourishments, according to the email. The rest of the funding would have to come from non-federal dollars." Here is good old St. Johns County sitting on a shortfall of present public works projects amounting to about $270 million and having to create 'fines' like the 1/2 cent sales tax gambit to put temporary grease on the squeaky wheel(s) of need. There is no vast reservoir of solvency to generate money for local government contribution and, again, Florida counties and cities operate within a state that deliberately starves public programs to give tax breaks to private corporations. Agencies like the Department of Transportation know how much the sea has already affected the roadbed and threatens A1A safety but their state level policy interest is more in I75 or toll roads around Jacksonville. So, given the reality of having a backlog of immediate needs for new schools, fire stations, sheriff substations---capital construction, equipment and operational staffing----where is St. Johns going to come up with money for their share of nine miles of beach nourishment? The county paid for part of the Corps of Engineer study but this municipality is not in a position to 'chip in' much for sustaining an on-going nourishment program.

3) my favorite for winning the most outrageous is Main Street President Vivian Browning as she warns the St. Johns Commission that Vilano Beach faces dangers of flooding and having homes compromised by rising seas. Of course, her argument in 2016 is to covet the existing situation of St. Augustine Beach that has had a beach nourishment program in place for some time. Many other citizens have asked about the St. Augustine Beach dredging and whether $1.2million in funds from Tourist Development is a proper use of local fund contribution to such a temporary and seemingly useless way to improve the actual beach condition. But Ms. Browning seems to be arguing that her Vilano Beach situation is equal to St. Augustine Beach in eroding beach and if their camel nose is under the tent why not Vilano?
But the situation for Vilano beach has a couple of wrinkles that place the county in a really awkward situation if the 'equal' danger argument is pushed too hard. St. Augustine Beach is a much older and incorporated city within the county while Vilano Town Center and Main Street organization is a 2004-2005 creation of St. Johns who created a special jurisdiction right on the coast despite their own land use code arguing that the creation violated stipulations about beachfront 'density,' the A1A roadway as 'intensity,' increasing hurricane evacuation times (auto lines up to the Usina bridge on any normal weekend). The county also put out $12million for a storm water retention area so that local, state and federal law about 'flood control' and 'high hazard area' classifications could be circumvented. Lastly, anyone who lived near what was to become Vilano Town Center knew that the St. Augustine inlet jetty created north to south currents that, when combined with storms, created 'periodic' flooding and massive sand erosion.
All this reality from just little over a decade ago could easily become part of the public policy discussion about Vilano and its Main Street commercial investment. It is one thing to talk about a handful of beach homes in desperate need several miles north and those citizens who think of revetment as a last stand against collapse into the sea, but to be arguing for a plan that 're-nourishes' nine plus miles (not counting the Beach) and uses the Town Center as a 'special case' rationale for local funds seems as specious and escapist as pretending the climate is not involved in the beach erosion issue.

Firstcoaster 02/19/16 - 12:50 pm 31FEMA money
is bribing the states with their own money.

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