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Virginia Beach May Fund Croatan Beach Replenishment

Posted on March 16, 2017

By Mechelle Hankerson, The Virginian-Pilot

Within the next six years, city staff would like all public beaches to be on a regular maintenance schedule.

And that includes Croatan beach, where residents have said for years natural erosion was threatening the shoreline.

“We wish it had been noticed earlier,” said Mike Kelly, a Croatan resident who was on a working group with the city to study the erosion at the beach. “But now we have scientific evidence and engineering analysis and we can move forward to fix it.”

Before official budget hearings start, city departments are telling the council about projects they hope will be in the budget.

City manager Dave Hansen drafts a budget, which is presented to council and the public, and changed based on feedback. The entire process is usually complete by early May.

Last fall, a city-funded study found that Croatan, which runs from the southern side of the Rudee Inlet to Dam Neck, has eroded roughly 1 foot a year because of a natural change in wave patterns.

City staff hope to get $1.7 million to repair dunes next year while maintaining between 100 and 120 feet of usable beach.

Beaches are the city’s first defense against the effects of sea-level rise, public works coastal engineer Dan Adams told the City Council at a briefing earlier this month.

Since the recession, Virginia Beach has relied on emergency repairs to keep beaches healthy. That usually means crews add sand or rebuild dunes after storms.

During the next six years, coastal engineering staff has $26 million worth of beach replenishment and maintenance projects they’d like to see in the budget. The city plans for capital projects six years out, though the actual funding may change.

Here’s where that $26 million could go:

– The Resort Beach, which runs from Rudee Inlet to 89th Street, is already on a regular replenishment schedule with funding that was approved last year. That project uses federal money, too, which the city will need to monitor since it could change in coming years, Adams said. Next year, staff anticipates a $1.1 million price tag. After that, the cost could range from $2.2 to $2.5 million a year.

– Sandbridge Beach’s restoration is partially funded by the federal government and a special tax district in the neighborhood. The city estimates about $6 million in tax revenue generated from that special district will be allocated each year until 2023 to continue replenishment programs.

– Chic’s Beach, the fastest-eroding beach in the city, already has some funding to move forward, Adams said. Work had to stop because some property owners claimed they owned the beach and the city couldn’t complete any replenishment project there. After a favorable court ruling last year, the city would like to set aside $4 million next year to finish the work and another $2.6 million in 2023 to keep the beach safe.

– Staff would also like to fund a $125,000 study of Cape Henry beach to see if it will eventually need a regular maintenance schedule. Staff have suggested setting aside a total of $4 million in future years in case erosion gets worse, Adams said. Last summer, the city had to perform emergency erosion repair at Cape Henry after a winter of damaging storms. Usually, that beach is one of the most stable in the city.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot

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