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Indian River County ready to launch $12 million beach-renourishment project in January

Gusty winds and strong surf continued to batter the beach at Conn Beach on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, as Tropical Storm Eta moves through the Florida Straits and into the Gulf of Mexico. Overnight rains and wind contributed beach erosion prompting officials to close some beach access. PATRICK DOVE/TCPALM

Posted on December 8, 2020

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY— A $12 million project to replenish sand on county beaches from Wabasso Beach northward to the Seaview subdivision is to begin Jan. 4.

About 307,000 cubic yards of sand will be pumped onto the 3.7-mile stretch, said County Public Works District Rich Szpyrka.

The project must be completed by April 30 to avoid turtle nesting season.

About $4.7 million of the cost will come from Federal Emergency Management Agency hurricane reimbursements funds, while $7.2 million will come from local tourist taxes.

Beaches and dunes sustained significant erosion damage from hurricanes Matthew in 2016, Irma in 2017 and Dorian in 2019, Szpyrka said.

The overall project will take place over two fiscal years to spread out the cost. Phase 2 of this beach reconstruction, about 2.9-miles from Wabasso Beach Park south to Turtle Trail beach access, will not begin until November and and conclude by April 30, 2022.

Six years ago, the county began beach restoration in the same area that drew criticism from the community because sand was trucked onto the beach, creating noise and beach disruption. This time, one company proposed using sand from the ocean floor, price was higher, Szpyrka said.

This beach and dune repair project had been delayed for more than a year while the county obtained permission from beachfront property owners to access the dunes on their properties.

Now, with permission granted, the project can move forward, something Orchid Town Manager Noah Powers called “great news.”

Beaches in Orchid have been hit especially hard by erosion from past storms.  Several years ago, the town borrowed money from Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club to repair dunes.

The town had budgeted more than $400,000 in next year’s budget  for any beach and dune repairs had the county postponed its work.

“With this major project approved Tuesday by the county, we will surely save some money,” Powers said.

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