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Coastal towns struggle to complete beach nourishment projects despite additional state funding

Posted on May 1, 2024

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the state will be putting an additional $50 million towards beach nourishment projects. This money is important for beach towns still recovering from storms.

To be eligible for the state money, beach towns need to have a minimum number of easements.

Redington Shores Mayor Lisa Hendrickson said Redington Shores needed 75 property owners willing to give the Army Corps of Engineers a perpetual easement, but only 21 neighbors agreed.

“Residents hear the word the easement and it’s a total turnoff,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson said easements are a big issue standing in their way of dune reconstruction. A project that will protect homes but could block property owner’s beach view.

“The thing that is concerning to the resident is they don’t want to sign a perpetual easement. It’s as though they’re giving up a sense of property rights. Their most valuable asset is their personal property, and they want to protect it,” Hendrickson said.

County and state officials have been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to change their policies. U.S. Senator Rick Scott recently sent the agency a letter detailing the importance of these projects.

“From the last storm we had this dune was basically cut off.  These are the roots from the sea oats. This is how much dune we lost,” Hendrickson said.

The state money is funneled through Pinellas County, and the county works with the Army Corps of Engineers.

To work around the easement stalemate after hurricane Idalia, Pinellas County created a program that only requires a temporary easement for projects using county funding.

Many beach communities qualified, but not Redington Shores.  For the county program, they needed only 36 temporary easements to get on the county schedule.

“We were only able to obtain roughly up to about 13 or 14 temporary easements,” Hendrickson said.

The county said it did finish a beach erosion project in Pass-a-Grille. Projects from Clearwater to Redington Shores and Treasure Island are currently on hold.

“Here’s our immediate needs. We need our dunes to protect our properties here,” Hendrickson said.

Mayor Hendrickson said the county program is now closed. Since they didn’t get enough temporary easements, the current state of their dunes will be left to nature’s way. Right now, officials are still working with the Army Corps OF Engineers. It’s not clear if the county will reopen another program in the future.


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