The Coastal Star

South Palm Beach: Breakwater prospects occupy commission

NOTE: Story has been corrected since printed to reflect the following date change:

• Changed the date of the June council meeting to the 21st, rather than the 28th, also to accommodate Flagello’s schedule.


By Tim O’Meilia

    Clutching to a sliver of hope that a breakwater project to protect the eroding South Palm Beach shore can be revived, Palm Beach County commissioners will meet with federal and state environmental regulators June 28.
    “Hopefully, that will serve to revive those projects, otherwise it will be incumbent on individual condominiums to protect their buildings,” County Commssioner Steven Abrams told the South Palm Beach Town Council May 24.
    County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor called for the workshop after commissioners deep-sixed a breakwater project off Riviera Beach, which effectively killed plans for a breakwater project that would have protected 1.3 miles of shore from the south end of the town of Palm Beach to the Ritz-Carlton resort in Manalapan, covering both South Palm Beach and the Lantana public beach.
    Sixteen visible breakwaters averaging 120 feet long would have been placed 200 to 250 feet off shore of South Palm Beach. Instead of breakwaters, nine 115-foot submerged groins would be placed in front of the Lantana public beach.
    Neither the county, nor the state, nor the federal Army Corps of Engineers had money budgeted for the estimated $15 million to $25 million project. Work was supposed to begin in 2013.
    Commissioners said they were concerned that above-water breakwaters would interfere with sea turtles reaching the beach to lay their eggs. However, submerged breakwaters would be much less effective in protecting the beach, computer models have shown. Only Abrams and Commissioner Karen Marcus backed the Singer Island project.
    First-year State Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, also weighed in on beach restoration. “I am not in favor of dredge-and-fill projects, but other approaches are more effective,” he told council members at the May 24 meeting.
    “I want DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) to come up with a statewide plan to address the situation. For each town to come up with its own plan is crazy,” Clemens said.
    Councilwoman Bonnie Fischer asked Abrams for county help in gaining beach access for equipment to repair and build sea walls behind condominiums, if necessary. Abrams said he would work on that.
    In other town business, the council:
    • Agreed unanimously to move the time of their monthly meetings from 7 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at Councilman Joseph Flagello’s request so he would not be late.
    • Changed the date of the June council meeting to the 21st, rather than the 28th, also to accommodate Flagello’s schedule.
    • Renewed unanimously the town’s participation in the county’s urban county program, which would make the town eligible for disaster relief money or federal stimulus money, should either become available. The federal money is administered through the county.
    Mayor Donald Clayman said the town would file an appeal June 1 to the U.S. Census Bureau of its official 2010 population count. June 1 is the first day appeals can be filed.
    The census showed the town with 1,171 people — 360 fewer than 10 years ago. But the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections lists 1,292 South Palm Beach voters on its rolls.

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