INDIAN RIVER COUNTY ― Indian River County wants to begin two major beach sand and dune renourishment projects on Nov. 1. Those projects may be delayed, however, if the county is unable to obtain more easements from beachside property owners.
The projects are intended to replace sand lost during Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Dorian. Once the dunes are completed, over 400,000 native, salt-tolerant dune plants will be planted. One result, the county says, will be wider beaches.
Most of the sand will be placed on public property, but some will be on private property, which necessitates the easements.
According to the Indian River County Coastal Engineering Division, beach renourishment rebuilds a healthy beach and dune system to provide storm protection for structures, recreational spaces, and critical nesting habitat for sea turtles. Without sand replacement, the county says, infrastructure such as roads and buildings area at risk of damage from storms.
The Sector 3 Beach and Dune Renourishment Project spans 6.6 miles from Treasure Shores Beach Park south to Turtle Trail Beach Park. Roughly 694,600 cubic yards of sand will replace sand lost from the hurricanes.
In Sector 3, the county is seeking 188 property easements. As of Sept. 4, 121 Sector 3 easements had been recorded (64%), 29 (15%) were in the process of being recorded, 34 (18%) still had not responded, and four (2%) had denied the easement.
The Sector 7 Beach and Dune Renourishment Project spans two miles from the Treasure Cove subdivision to the Floralton Beach subdivision. Roughly 295,000 cubic yards of sand will replace sand lost in hurricanes.
In Sector 7, the county is seeking 82 property easements. As of Sept. 4, 35 easements (43%) had been recorded, 15 (18%) were in the process of being recorded, 30 (37%) had not yet responded, and two (2%) had denied the easement.
Combining the two sectors, the county has processed 156 (58%) of 270 easements.
The Sector 3 project will cost an estimated $14.8 million, of which the county pays $5 million and federal and state cost-sharing programs pay the rest.
The Sector 7 project will cost an estimated $9.9 million, of which the county pays $4 million and the federal and state cost-sharing programs pay the rest.
Both projects are now transitioning from the planning phase to the construction phase. The county plans to select contractors in September and start the projects on Nov. 1.
If the county does not receive what it considers to be a sufficient number of easements, the Coastal Engineering Division says it would be difficult to match each property’s topography with the rest of the beach. Full compliance also ensures the federal cost sharing.
If not enough easements are received, the county commissioners may decide to postpone the project until next year.