Town of Palm Beach News

Federal Aid For Future Palm Beach Midtown Beach Sand Fills

The Town of Palm Beach may get federal aid that would shoulder the future costs of Midtown Beach sand fills.

A study will be conducted to determine if Midtown beach is eligible for federal assistance. The costs of the study ($3 million) will be evenly split between the Town of Palm Beach and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Town will make three annual payments of $500,000.

“The Mid-Town project would be reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through an effort called a General Reevaluation Report (GRR),” explains Rob Weber, Coastal Program Manager. “GRR efforts document and summarize previous investigations, studies, analyses, design, construction, and monitoring into a comprehensive feasibility study.”

Weber has high expectations from this study, as it could significantly reduce the cost of Midtown beach fills. “The Mid-Town project was initially included as a segment within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Palm Beach County Shore Protection Project,” Weber said.  “The GRR is expected to demonstrate that the Mid-Town project, consistent with other Federal projects within Palm Beach County, does provide storm protection, storm damage reduction, and regional economic benefits when compared to the expected shoreline condition without the project.”

Still, it would take three years to complete the study, and until then, there are land fill issues to overcome. The next land fill is scheduled for 2021, but it might be done sooner as it’s been noticed that erosion has accelerated at Midtown and Clarke Avenue beaches.

In 2015, the fill at reaches 3 and 4 ended up costing $17.6 million, much more than the $11.6 million that was originally predicted. And, according to Town Manager Tom Bradford, the cost of coastal management can only continue to rise. Still, he is optimistic about the town getting federal funding for Midtown public beach area. As he explained, Midtown Beach is eligible for 46 percent state cost-sharing, but due to changes in state funding and local-government applications ranking, beach projects are ranked higher by the state in the case they also receive federal cost-sharing.

The recommended coastal budget is $3.1 million for the budget year that begins on October 1, as recommended by the Shore Protection Board. The $500,000 for the federal study is part of this budget.

The town predicts a 10-year coastal protection plan from 2013 to 2023 with a budget of $92.5 million, but each year’s expenses have to be authorized by the council first by being adopted into the annual budget.

Federal Aid For Future Palm Beach Midtown Beach Sand Fills

This year’s $3.1 million budget includes no major projects. Among other things, it includes $600,000 to build a dune on North End beach. The Army Corps will place the sand dredged from the Palm Beach Inlet next winter to the “dry beach” from the inlet to Onondaga Avenue in Reach 1, and on the north end of Reach 2 down to Merrain Road.

The dune is built for storm protection along one of the most eroded shoreline stretches of the town. Doing a full sand nourishment in the Reach 2 area would be difficult due to the abundance of nearshore rock reef.

Other projects in the budget include $736,000 for annual debt service on coastal projects, $220,000 for sea turtle monitoring, $213,000 for biological monitoring and $200,000 for coral transplants near Midtown Beach.

It was recommended by the shore board that the 10-year plan should be updated annually to extend the future outlook.

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