By Joe Capozzi
The second half of the town’s dune restoration project has been postponed until 2024 because of damage from Hurricane Nicole.
“We are basically out of luck for anything for dune restoration for another whole year and let’s hope we don’t get hit with any bad storms this summer,’’ Mayor Bonnie Fischer said at the Town Council meeting on Jan. 10.
All beaches in South Palm Beach, a town roughly five-eighths of a mile long, abut private land. As a result, the town must rely on Lantana and Palm Beach to renourish its beaches and dunes.
Fischer and Town Manager Robert Kellogg learned about the delay in a phone call Jan. 9 with Lantana Town Manager Brian Raducci and Robert Weber, the coastal program manager for the town of Palm Beach.
Sand for the $360,000 restoration project had been stockpiled about 3 miles north of South Palm Beach, on a berm next to the Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course south of Phipps Ocean Park, Weber said. But it was washed away in November when Nicole approached South Florida and made landfall south of Vero Beach.
Officials are waiting to hear from FEMA if they can be reimbursed for the lost sand, Kellogg said in an interview.
Nicole also damaged the sea wall at the east end of Ocean Avenue at Lantana Municipal Beach, the access point for equipment for the dune restoration. It could be late fall before the sea wall is repaired, Kellogg said.
“It was unfortunate to hear that but there’s nothing we can do because we are at the whim of what Palm Beach does and also Lantana,’’ Fischer said. “We need both of them to even do anything on that beach.’’
The first phase of the dune restoration was completed in May 2021 for $739,000. There is more sand — more beach — on the north end of town near Palmsea Condominiums than on the south end of town, where the limited beach allows surf to pound against condo sea walls.
“It’s getting very scary,’’ said Fischer, who lives in Imperial House at the south end of town.
Town Hall architects
For the second time in three months, the Town Council is looking for architects to design a new Town Hall constructed with structural insulated panels.
In November, the council chose Slattery & Associates over two other firms to design the building. But on the advice of the town attorney Glen Torcivia, council members decided Jan. 10 not to offer Slattery & Associates a contract because of concerns with the firm’s experience with the SIPs method.
The town has issued a new request for qualifications and the council could pick a new firm in March.
When council members interviewed Slattery & Associates, they were left with the impression that the firm had experience designing buildings that could be constructed with structural insulated panels.
But after the November meeting, town officials took a closer look at the firm’s experience with SIPs and determined “it’s very minimal,’’ Kellogg said. “We want to have someone that has significant experience in the design phase of installing SIPs.’’
Town Council members Jan. 10 heard a presentation from Highland Beach building official Jeff Remas on new state recertification rules for coastal condominiums.
A summary of Remas’ presentation will be shared with representatives of the 27 condominiums in South Palm Beach.