A contractor performs dune restoration on the beach in front of the condominiums at 3360 South Ocean Boulevard, which allowed trucks to travel across its property to haul sand onto the Reach 8 beach. The Town of Palm Beach does not have its own access point onto Reach 8, which is between the Lake Worth Pier and the South Town Limit.
Town restores South End beach and dunes; FEMA to cover most of the $10.3 million cost
The town has restored a roughly 1.5-mile stretch of eroded shoreline south of Sloan’s Curve, providing stronger storm protection for South End residents.
The federal government is reimbursing the town for most of the project cost, which exceeded $10 million for the beach renourishment and dune restorations in Palm Beach and South Palm Beach.
From late February until late April, Town contractor Weeks Marine dredged 495,000 cubic yards of offshore sand and deposited it on Reach 7, between Sloan’s Curve and the Ambassador Hotel and Residences, near Palm Beach County’s R.G. Kreusler Park.
Most of the sand was used to restore the Phipps Ocean Park/Reach 7 beach, which lost a lot of sand to hurricanes Matthew and Irma in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
But, of the 495,000 cubic yards, 62,000 cubic yards was reserved for dune restorations in front of Sloan’s Curve, in Reach 8 between the Bellaria and La Bonne Vie residential buildings, and on South Palm Beach’s half-mile shore, which falls within Reach 9, Coastal Program Manager Rob Weber said.>>>
A separate contractor, Rio-Bak Corp., hauled sand by truck from Reach 7 to perform the dune restorations.
(For perspective, a single cubic yard of sand can weigh upwards of 3,000 pounds, so a massive 30,000-pound dump truck would carry up to 10 cubic yards.)
Town Councilman Lew Crampton, whose South End home faces the newly restored Reach 7 beach, said the project went well.
“There actually seemed to be less noise this time” than during the last Phipps/Reach 7 renourishment in 2016, he said. “The beaches in front of our house look great.”
Crampton praised the condominium at 3360 S. Ocean Blvd. for allowing the Rio-Bak trucks to use its property to access and rebuild the Reach 8 dunes, which received 23,000 cubic yards of sand. It’s not the first time that 3360 has voluntarily sacrificed its peace and quiet for the greater good of the neighborhood and town, he said.
“It’s not a lot of fun to have 40 or 50 trucks a day rumbling over your parking lot and over your sea wall down onto the beach,” Crampton said. “That is a major gift to the town. I think that’s really great community support.”
The Citizens’ Association of Palm Beach, which represents 41 residential buildings south of Sloan’s Curve, called the restored beach a “great service” to the town.
“In addition to the [nearly] 500,000 cubic yards of sand placed on Reach 7, the dune restoration areas further protect our beaches as we approach hurricane season,” Citizens’ Association co-chairs Donald Singer and Skip Aldridge said in a joint written statement.
South Palm Beach Mayor Bonnie Fischer said her town will pay Palm Beach around $700,000 in full reimbursement for the 20,000 cubic yards it received on its half-mile beach.
The Town of South Palm Beach has no access point for trucks to get onto its beach. Rio-Bak trucked the sand southward from Palm Beach’s Reach 8 into South Palm Beach.
Until now, South Palm Beach’s most recent sand nourishment was done by Palm Beach County more than 10 years ago, Fischer said.
“We were critically eroded and we are a town with ancient sea walls,” Fischer said. “We’re very happy that Palm Beach worked with us and really helped us out.”
Palm Beach hired Weeks Marine for $8.5 million; Rio-Bak was paid $1.8 million, Weber said.
In addition to the full $700,0000 reimbursement from South Palm Beach for its share of the work, the town will receive a 75 percent project reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency because of the sand losses to Matthew and Irma, Weber said.
The town planned to begin the dredge work no later than January. But it was delayed until late February while the town hammered out an agreement with the condominium associations representing the buildings at 2000 and 2100 Sloan’s Curve.
State and federal permits do not allow a full beach restoration in front of the Sloan’s Curve buildings because of concerns that dredged sand will cover reef and marine habitat in that area. But the condominium associations for the buildings contend that offshore dredging from the town’s last Reach 7 restoration in 2016 caused severe erosion at their beach.
The town was concerned that 2000 and 2100 Sloan’s Curve would formally object to the project, delaying it for a year and causing the town to lose some or all of the FEMA grant, Weber has said.
The town, without admitting any responsibility for the erosion, agreed to place as much sand at Sloan’s Curve as the state would allow onto the dunes in front of those buildings, and to monitor the site in the future. Weber said it placed 19,000 cubic yards of sand there.
Despite the late start, the overall project was completed within days of the original May 1 deadline, which was set by permitting authorities to protect nesting sea turtles. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the federal environmental permit, gave the town a five-day extension and the work was completed May 5, Weber said.
This enabled the town to receive the maximum 75 percent from FEMA, Town Manager Kirk Blouin said.
“We had expected to have to stop the project [before May 1] due to sea turtle nesting and come back to finish it in November, at additional cost and inconvenience to the residents,” Blouin said. “But we were very pleasantly surprised. We got the project done. I’m sure the residents will be happy.”