Posted on May 24, 2023
An islander is urging officials to investigate why jagged and rusted metal, chunks of concrete, lumps of clay and sharp seashells are emerging at the site of a recently completed $6.8 million beach remediation project in the West End.
Beachgoers on the island’s West End have noted concrete, metal, clay and sharp seashells buried in the sand in front of SeaScape Condos, 10811 Termini-San Luis Pass Road, Gary Wilcox, who owns a rental property there, said.
“We have a lot of big rocks that’s mixed in with the sand and a lot of seashells, which makes it difficult to walk at night,” Wilcox said. “It seems like there’s a lot of clay in that particular sand.”
The beach in front of SeaScape on Thursday was the site of at least four chunks of concrete varying in size from that of a football to a small child, as well as three bricks, one mangled piece of rusted metal and countless sharp shells and lumps of clay.
Councilwoman Marie Robb, whose District 6 seat encompasses the West End beach project, argues there’s no way the debris came from the beach remediation project, she told The Daily News on Thursday.
“That sand was tested, tested, tested,” Robb said.
The debris could have been on the trucks that delivered the sand, or dragged in by someone else after the project was completed, she said.
Vacationers who have rented Wilcox’s condo have complained about the condition of the beach, he said.
“The only aspect we didn’t like — and this is not within the host’s control — is the beach was not very sandy,” Karen Kimes said. “The ground is hard and it’s not the kind of place to squirm your toes in the sand.”
And they should complain, Wilcox said.
“It’s not a good situation, and the complaints are perfectly understandable,” Wilcox said. “People are surprised at the amount of debris. The shells are too sharp to walk on, and renters aren’t happy. I’m not sure what can be done.”
BRICK By BRICK
The Park Board of Trustees is charged with maintaining the island’s beaches through remediation projects.
The park board couldn’t comment on the matter Thursday because it had to run all media requests about the project through the the Texas General Land Office, spokeswoman Mackenzie Finklea said.
The land office is the state agency responsible for preserving Texas’ lands and natural resources. The entity oversees all beach remediation projects and has the final say on beach-related law changes and projects.
In February, Beaumont-based Apollo Environmental Strategies Inc. completed an $6.8 million beach construction project that resulted in about 119,000 cubic yards of sand placed along a span of West End beach at the end of the seawall. The company hauled trucks of sand from Texas International Terminals, 4800 Old Port Industrial Road.
“I have not been made aware of any issues,” Todd Sullivan, president of Texas International Terminals, said.
The material came from a land office-approved sand source and supplied to Apollo, which loaded, hauled and placed the material, Sullivan said.
“Apollo has a good deal of experience in this type of work, and I believe they did a great job, at least from our perspective at the loading site,” Sullivan said. “The source of sand is from the virgin-cut dredging project to create a new ship basin on the Galveston Ship Channel.
“I do not know how or if debris would be in the material.”
Apollo Environmental didn’t return requests for comment.
The project was a part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency claim in conjunction with the land office’s Coastal Erosion Planning and Response Act grant. The city council Wednesday sent a letter to the park board urging them to finalize round 13 of the grant funding, which could afford about $30 million to $75 million to take the beach nourishment project farther west.
Wilcox worries the park board and city could compound the issue further as the entities seek to extend the beach nourishment project, he said. It’s worrisome that the park board could solicit the same companies to supply and place the sand, Wilcox said.
The area in the most critical need of beach remediation is between 8 Mile and 13 Mile roads, Robb has said.
Wilcox hopes the park board uses a different entity for that project.
“They need to go to another place because it’s not going to be good,” Wilcox said. “We had a good beach last summer, and they ruined it.”