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Longboat Key Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 9 months ago

Plans begin to take shape for new North Shore beach entrance

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North-end residents have advocated for improvements to the beach entrance at 100 N. Shore Road.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

There probably isn’t anyone who can better express the desires Longboat Key residents have for a new north-end beach entrance than a man who lives right next to it.

Roger Field, a resident of the 360 North town home community, is helping assist the communication between the town and the LBK North community group in the plan to update the beach entrance at 100 N. Shore Road.

“When people drive up or come up to it, we want it to be aesthetically pleasing,” Field said. “Right now, it’s not an eyesore. It’s just that we’ve done this beautiful beach, and we need to have a nice entrance to the beach, and we don’t have that right now.”

360 North resident Roger Field learns about the proposed improvements to the 100 North Shore beach entrance.

The town is finishing up its $36 million beach renourishment project, work that came in more than $2 million under budget. With some of the savings, town officials hope to spruce up the island's favorite beach spot.

Commissioner Maureen Merrigan said the project is needed but that she was happy the town planned to add posts and rope to the entrance in the interim.

“When we were going through the budget review process, there was a commitment from the town and agreement from the commissioners that when we finish up, as we’re doing the beach renourishment project, that should be one of the last pieces that’s do on it,” Merrigan said. “But nothing should begin until the beach renourishment project is done up on that north end. It doesn’t makes sense to redo that entrance and have trucks or beach renourishment projects going on.”

Longboat Key Town Projects Manager Charlie Mopps declined to provide an estimated cost on the cost to update the North Shore beach entrance. However, Mopps said the estimated the $2.85 million in savings from beach renourishment would be put toward the project.

“This … was never really part of the beach nourishment project but as part of the commission listening to the north-end residents and north-end coalition about doing a beautification on one of the heaviest used public access points that we have,” Mopps said.

Mopps met with Omar Lopez of Taylor Engineering on Friday morning at the beach entrance along North Shore Road to discuss the town’s needs and for the company to provide aerial drone footage of the vicinity. Mopps said the plan would be to develop 3D renderings of beach entrance designs based on Taylor’s footage.

“Between now and December, all of the chainlink fence is coming down,” Mopps said. “The majority of the signs, because we have a lot of sign pollution in here, those will come down.”

Once the renderings are developed and a design agreed upon, Mopps said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection typically takes 30-90 days for the permitting process.

Mopps said Public Works has already purchased the posts and rope to replace the fencing. The plan is the new system would direct beachgoers to the new entrance and away from private property.

“We want to protect 360 North’s property,” Mopps said.

Field said the proximity to Greer Island makes the North Shore entrance appealing to the public.

This is a drop-off beach,” Field said. “In other words, people drive up and they’re on the beach when they get out the vehicle, and then there’s a roundabout and they drive away.

“The other beaches, you park, you walk through a path, and you go 50 yards, and you get to the beach. Then you go 50 yards you get to the ocean. Here, you’re at the ocean when you get here.”

Plus, the sand dredging on the north end created a much larger beach than what had previously existed. Mopps said it also allows for access for emergency vehicles to the north tip of Greer Island.

The consensus among town leaders and residents was the kind of message a new entrance would send to beachgoers.

“I think it’ll make a huge difference for the residents who are proud of our beaches and have family down and want to show off our beaches, and it sets the stage for visitors or people who come to that area,” Merrigan said. “It sets the stage for how we care about our beaches.”

Field explained how it felt to make a difference in his community in a collaborative effort.

“All of us on the team want to have a beautiful beach for everyone,” Field said. “That’s kind of what’s driving the whole effort.

“We’re proud of what’s been done, and we’re proud of this whole area. We want people to enjoy the beach.”

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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