Town officials have noticed high erosion at the north end of Longboat Key, a situation officials have considered fixing with an emergency beach nourishment project.
Longboat Key is considering emergency beach renourishment for the north end of the island, an erosion-prone area that’s experienced increased deterioration since Hurricane Irma, according to Public Works officials.
Sand on the beach north of Broadway Street has disappeared at an accelerated rate as a result of a high “intensity” of storms and tides since waves and tides connected with the hurricane hit Sept. 10, said Public Works Project Manager James Linkogle.
Linkogle said he visits the north end of the beach at least every other week to take pictures, taking note of the rate of erosion near two groins at the end of North Shore Road. Those groins, which were installed with sand fill in 2015, were designed and constructed to keep sand from being washed off the north-shore beach.
“We’ve been watching the sand move around up there ever since we put sand up there,” Linkogle said. “We’ve been kind of looking at the conditions as they stand right now as far as access to the beach.”
That access is getting more difficult as each day passes. High tides have eroded the beach to the point that the beach escarpment — a steep embankment left in a sand dune by beach erosion — has eroded to the base of the southernmost groin.
The scarp at the north end of the Key is about three-and-a-half feet high, as of Monday.
So as a precautionary measure, the Public Works Department has sought to expedite its annual survey from the town’s beach management consultant, Linkogle said. That survey will give the town the information it needs to determine when, and how much, sand should be dumped on Longboat beaches.
This hastened survey is due in part to Linkogle’s meetings with north-end residents who have called him concerned about erosion and how it could impact their properties and lives.
Maureen Merrigan, who lives near the beach on the north end of the Key and chairs a group that represents about 800 north-end residents, said she’s heard concerns from neighbors about how erosion on the beach could affect the structural integrity of the Longbeach Condominiums.
At high tide, waves crash against a seawall just yards from a Longbeach building.
“It’s a significant concern, we’ve got housing right there,” Merrigan said. “When you decide to put houses on the beach, you have to decide, as a town, to protect those beaches.”