By Steve Plunkett
Lantana Town Council members have said it before and they’ll say it again: Don’t ask to drive construction equipment over our $1.5 million seawall.
Palm Beach sought permission to send a bulldozer, a front-end loader and two dump trucks over the seawall as part of a dune restoration project south of the Lake Worth Pier. James Bowser, its town engineer, promised to devise “special methods’’ to shield the wall from damage.
And Palm Beach Town Manager Peter Elwell said his town would be pleased to give Lantana 200 cubic yards of sand — worth $8,000 — as part of the deal. A larger amount of sand would require lengthy permitting, he said.
“If anything were to happen to the wall or any other part of your property, we recognize our liability to make a complete restoration of that,’’ Elwell said.
Palm Beach had gotten the OK for similar access before the seawall was installed.
“We used to have a natural dune area that you were welcome to pass over, and many neighbors did — until we built our seawall. We spent $1.5 million of our taxpayers’ money to build a seawall so we’re protected, and since then we haven’t allowed vehicles over that wall,’’ council member Tom Deringer said.
He noted the town had denied vehicle access to Imperial House for work on its seawall and also to Lantana’s seawall contractor, Murray Logan Construction Inc.
“So don’t feel bad. We are very protective of our seawall,’’ Deringer said.
Vice Mayor Cindy Austino said $8,000 was paltry compared to other offers Lantana had rejected and worried about the weight of the construction equipment.
Mayor David Stewart said Palm Beach’s vehicles would be much lighter than the 100-ton crane Imperial House had wanted to use, but still wanted details on how the weight of the trucks would be dispersed.
In the end, Elwell apologized for putting the Lantana leaders in a “very difficult’’ situation.
“I can see that at least two members of the council are going to feel very uncomfortable trying to say yes, if at all, and I don’t want to put the rest of you in the position of trying to make something work like that for us,’’ Elwell said.
“We have other ways. There’s not a better way for us to get to the beach than using this access through your park, but we do have other ways we can get to the beach.’’
In its next action, the Lantana council approved an easement agreement with Imperial House, whose seawall ends 3 to 4 inches away from the South Palm Beach co-op’s property line. The town’s seawall ends 178 ½ feet south.
Murray Logan is connecting Lantana’s seawall to the co-op’s seawall, a $384,000 project.
“This is the agreement that allows us to go that last few inches where their wall wasn’t put in correctly, so that our wall can actually attach to theirs,’’ Stewart said.