Town of Palm Beach NewsUncategorized

Palm Beach Faces Complaints About Seaweed

Lately, beaches in the town of Palm Beach and other South Florida beach towns have been plagued with Sargassum seaweed, resulting in complaints from many Midtown Beach-goers, as first reported by the Palm Beach Daily News.

“There are a lot of complains from residents,” Midtown lifeguard Houston Park said on Monday.

The mat-like seaweed floats on berry-like bladders and is a brown algae. Park said that the problem seems to intensify, subside, and then intensify again in an unfortunate cycle. The seaweed can be stirred up by hurricanes, and Park said that Palm Beach County beaches are especially vulnerable because of their close proximity to the Gulf Stream current. 

Mia Delauro and Alanna Frattellone, Palm Beach visitors from Central New Jersey, were relaxing at Midtown Beach where they encountered the seaweed. Deluaro said that when she saw all the seaweed she assumed there was must have been a storm recently. She was surprised to learn that the town does not regularly clean its public beaches.

“It’s kind of weird that they don’t clean it,” she said. “This is such a nice down. It doesn’t really match the rest of the town.”

“Everything else here is so manicured,” agreed Frattellone.

In New Jersey, Frattellone and Delauro go to beach at Sandy Hook on the Jersey Shore.

“Our beaches don’t have this at all,” Delauro said of the seaweed, adding that the beaches there are cleaned every day. “They’re very strict about trash.”

Palm Beach Faces Complaints About Seaweed

Last year, the town of Palm Beach cut its annual budget for cleaning the public beaches from $72,000 to $17,000, according to Finance Director Jane Le Clainche. The budget cut coincided with the retirement of an employee who had previously cleaned the beaches and came as a part of a larger review of operational expenses. 

The reduced budget is used to clean the beaches “at a minimum service level,” Le Clainche said.

After receiving complaints about the seaweed, Town Manager Kirk Blown ordered Midtown Beach cleaned on March 18. The contractor was paid $750, Coastal Program Manager Rob Weber said.

The next day, at the Town Council meeting, Mayor Gail Conglio brought up the issue. 

“Midtown is not in good shape,” Coniglio said. “It has not only seaweed but trash-filled seaweed … I hope going forward we will consider being good stewards of our beaches and our environment.”

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The council decided to leave the cleanups at Blouin’s discretion.

According to Weber, if the council decided to clean the beaches regularly, that would cost about $49,260 a year, based on an agreed price with Universal Beach Services,

Meanwhile, Weber will continue to keep a close eye on the shore. “I’m not out there every single day, but when I start to [hear] concerns or complaints, I will make my way out there,” he said.

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Alanna Barrett

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