Sand, mechanical beach cleaners on the way to Destin beaches (LIVEBLOG)
August 17, 2010 12:05 PM
By Matt Algarin
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill put the emergency sand project for Holiday Isle on hold, city leaders announced at Monday night’s City Council Meeting that the critically eroded beaches may see sand as early as Aug. 24.
“This is wonderful news,” Holiday Surf and Racquet Club General Manager Jack Chumley told The Log Tuesday morning. “We desperately needed this — it’s long and much needed.”
Chumley added, “it would be great” if they were able to complete the project before Labor Day.
The project, which should take about seven to 10 days to complete, will allow up to 140,000 cubic yards of sand to be dredged. It will be placed along a 2,600 foot-long stretch of beach on Holiday Isle, from just to the east of Jetty East Condominiums to the eastern boundary of Holiday Surf and Racquet Club.
Weeks Marine, who will operate the dredge, had pulled out of the area in July to help build berms in Louisiana prior to the emergency sand project starting. City Manager Greg Kisela had initially feared that Weeks Marine wouldn’t return to Destin beaches until 2011.
“Well, they started talking about coming back a few weeks ago,” Kisela said. “ Then things really heated up within the last week.”
While discussing the subject Monday night, Councilman Jim Bagby was concerned with the funding, and wanted to make sure that the city had secured the revenue from the Holiday Isle homeowners before the dredging moved forward.
To read a play-by-play from the meeting, click here.
Kisela assured him the city has worked through all of the easement and payment issues. The $1.2 million project is funded through a public/private partnership, with Holiday Isle homeowners paying a majority of the costs.
“Nothing has changed from what you have seen before,” Kisela told the council.
With the worst part of hurricane season still ahead, Holiday Isle residents can breathe a little easier.
“This will hopefully give us some peace of mind for this season,” Chumley said. “We are still anxiously awaiting the big restoration project next year though.”
In other business, city leaders are preparing for a mechanical beach cleaning after the discovery of oil underneath the sand.
After Tropical Depression No. 5 churned up the Gulf last week, beaches all along the Gulf Coast have seen an increase in the amount of tar balls washing ashore.
City Manager Greg Kisela met with BP Monday and said the oil giant is in the process of finishing up the mechanical beach cleaning on the Eglin Property.
“They should be moving toward Destin beaches next week,” he said. Kisela said the mechanical beach cleaning would be used to remove product from underneath the sand. “This is expected to be a one-time thing,” he added.
The news of oil being covered by sand worried attorney Stuart Smith, who is representing businesses throughout Destin and the Gulf Coast in their lawsuits against BP. He said contractors have been “sloppy” in their cleanup efforts.
“We have ceded sovereignty over these affected areas to BP and its contractors — without local government oversight,” Smith told The Log. “To me that is a dangerous situation.”