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Beach restoration, stormwater improvements are highlights at Ponce Inlet town hall

Posted on March 6, 2024

Approximately 80 residents gathered Thursday night at the Community Center in Ponce Inlet for a town hall meeting where the mayor and town officials shared the latest town news.

Besides the mayor and the Town Council, Volusia County Councilman Matt Reinhart and several town department heads also attended the meeting.

Mayor Lois Partisky delivered her State of the Town address and other town officials spoke individually about their areas of expertise.

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Here is what residents learned at the meeting.

Hurricane recovery, stormwater improvements were front and center

Officials dedicated a large part of the meeting to the latest information regarding beach restoration efforts and stormwater improvements in town.

Like several coastal towns in Volusia County, Ponce Inlet was heavily affected by tropical storms Ian and Nicole in 2022, when the town saw beachside erosion and inland neighborhoods flooded.

The town sustained approximately $800,000 of storm-related damage and cleanup expenses, according to Paritsky.

“To date, $511,000 have been received from FEMA and insurance,” Paritsky said, “with another $207,000 expected to be received.”

She praised the Public Works Department’s clearing and refurbishing “drainage inlet and outfalls in neighborhoods which experienced flooding.”

The town purchased a new 3-foot and a larger 4-foot pump and refurbished the existing three pumps, “significantly adding to our capacity to drain water after major events,” she added.

Storm drain systems in the south half of Ponce Inlet saw the worst of the flooding. The town hired specialists to assess and clean out the systems in those parts of town. This work, Paritsky said, will continue in the north half of town in 2024.

Beach restoration efforts

Reinhart spoke about the ongoing beach recovery efforts.

“We took a devastating blow here in Volusia County,” he said of 2022’s storms. “Something unprecedented that we never experienced before.”

Several homes on the beachside of town were damaged or put in danger by the significant sand erosion. Since then, homeowners have been trying to work through permitting process to rebuild lost seawalls and protect their properties from any future storms.

According to the town’s building division, nine beachfront structures in Ponce Inlet were declared unsafe for occupancy due to beach erosion. Five have since been repaired, and 20 permits have been issued for new seawalls along the beach.

Reinhart spoke of beachside residents’ difficulties in the permitting process, among which, he said, were sea turtle nests.

He spoke of how the county negotiated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to allow beach construction during turtle-nesting season, from May to October, while keeping turtles safe.

Reinhart also mentioned the planned sand placement project that aims to place about 700,000 cubic yards of sand north of the Ponce de Leon Inlet.

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“Is it going to accomplish in giving us all the sand we need? No, we also need that natural accretion of sand to come back,” Reinhart added.

Preparing stormwater system for future storms

Public Safety Director Daniel Scales addressed the public regarding stormwater maintenance, which he called a “daily activity” for the town.

He again mentioned the purchase of the two new pumps and “how important” they will be to improve on the Public Works Department’s ability to move water from flooded areas.

“When we’re dealing with stormwater itself, we’ve got to have some place to put it,” Scales said. “With Ian, we had no place to put it — everywhere, there was water.”

That’s why, he added, the department is looking at retention pond projects for 2024.

Additionally, all of the town’s stormwater outfalls, manholes and drains have been mapped, he said.

“We didn’t know where some of them were, we couldn’t see them,” he said, adding that staff has since then cleaned them out and reinforced them.

“We know where to go,” Scales said. “If we see water in an area, we have a pretty good idea where the problems is … and we didn’t have that before.”

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Other topics discussed during the meeting included the completion of the rip-rap revetment project at Elber Sunset Park to stabilize the park’s shoreline and protect it from further erosion and of the Ponce de Leon Circle septic-to-sewer project.

The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 21.


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