By Tim O’Meilia
    
With plans for a $15 million to $25 million breakwater project to protect South Palm Beach’s eroding beaches dead in the water, town officials are trying an old-fashioned political method to resuscitate the plan — lobbying.
    When Palm Beach County commissioners killed the plans in February for a Singer Island jetty and breakwater project, a proposal to install breakwaters and groins along a 1.3-mile stretch from Palm Beach through South Palm Beach to the Lantana beach died as well.
    The county was part-way through an $850,000 environmental impact study when the commission voted 4-3 to halt more work. South Palm Beach pays 20 percent of the study and has paid $111,000 over the past five years for erosion work.
    With help from County Commissioner Steven Abrams already assured, town officials are taking aim at nay-voters. Mayor Donald Clayman said he button-holed Commissioner Shelley Vana, who voted to kill the project, during Lantana’s Last  ____ Over the Bridge parade last month.
    He said she gave him a smile and a hug.
    Town Manager Rex Taylor said the environmental study is 75 percent complete. “If you want to do anything in the future, you need the study. It has a long shelf life. It can always be updated,” he said.
    The county has halted dune restoration projects along the beach as well, because the sand washes away nearly as quickly as it’s placed.
    “We’re in a crisis situation here,” said Councilwoman Bonnie Fischer, who lives in the Imperial House, which had to rebuild its seawall last winter.
    Taylor said: “We feel the County Commission didn’t understand the length and breadth of what they did.”
In other business at the March 27 Town Council meeting:
    • Council members Stella Jordan and Robert Gottlieb were sworn in to new two-year terms by U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley. Both were unopposed. Joseph Flagello was unanimously chosen to remain vice mayor.
    • Council members passed an updated set of fees and charges for building permits, inspections, parking tickets and business taxes. Jordan had urged revision of the fees to cover the town’s administrative costs. Latest permit fee to install a satellite dish: $75.         

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  • The issue is that of compleing the Environmenal Impact Study (EIS), which must be accomplished prior to any type of beach nourishment or stabilization projects be presented for approval.  We have been putting the cart before the horse, arguing about which is best:  dune replenishment, offshore structures such as emergent or submerged breakwaters, jetties, additional serawalls, groins, etc.  The simple fact is none of this matters until and unless we complete the EIS.   Broward County has a completed EIS.  They are even doing a study on using refined recycled glass to replace the beach sand. The on-shore stage has been tested with great results and they are preparing to perform an offshore study.   How forward thinking is that?  Hopefully, one day we wll be in a position to be considered as state-of-the-art innovators.  One of the reasons Broward County works so well, is through the leadership of Kristen Jacobs as Chair of the Ocean's Council Governance Coordinating Committee.  She also holds many other positions concerning environmental factors as well as other government positions in Broward County.  I had the priviledge of hearing her speak April 4, 2012, at a gathering at the Nick & Johnnie's restaurant in Palm Beach and was very impressed.  Happily for those of us on the coastline, Kristin Jacobs is a candidate for the newly reshaped District 22 Congressional Seat.  What a coup her election will be. 

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