County considering $551M beach nourishment project
Project involves a 50-year commitment with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – County commissioners next Tuesday will be asked to make a 50-year commitment to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on helping pay for the "nourishment" of beaches in the Satellite Beach and Indian Harbour Beach areas, News 6 partner Florida Today says.
That commitment eventually would include the county allocating more than $165 million from its 5 percent Tourist Development Tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals for the $551 million project. It will be in a 7.8-mile section of beach known as the midreach area, stretching from Pineda Causeway south to Flug Avenue.
"It's a very large milestone" in the midreach project, said Mike McGarry, beach projects coordinator for Brevard County's Natural Resources Management Department. The Army Corps of Engineers needs "to know Brevard County is in it for the long haul."
McGarry said the midreach project will help preserve the beach areas for recreation and tourism; will help protect nearby homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructure from potential storm damage; and will help preserve sea turtle nesting areas.
McCarry said an Army Corps of Engineers study found that the economic benefits of doing the midreach project are three times the cost of the project, primarily in terms of shore protection from hurricanes and other storm damage.
The 50-year "project partnership agreement" commitment and partial funding from the Tourist Development Tax, in combination with money from the federal government and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, is similar to beach nourishment projects underway in the northern and southern beach area of the county, in sections known as the north reach and south reach. The County Commission in 2000 entered into a project cooperation agreement with the Army for shore protection projects in the north and south reaches.
Twenty-five percent of the tourist tax is specifically designated for beach projects — amounting to roughly $3 million of the $12 million in the Brevard County Tourist Development Office's budget for the current budget year.
The initial two-year midreach construction project will be the most expensive piece of the overall 50-year project, McGarry said. That's partly because of plans to construct a 4½-acre offshore artificial "mitigation reef'" topped with coquina rock in 15 feet of water. The artificial reef is designed to mitigate any damage to the natural coquina rock formations caused by the beach nourishment project.
McGarry said the initial project schedule calls for the artificial reef to be constructed on land in early 2017, then placed offshore in the summer of 2017.
Actual placing of new sand on the beach could begin as early as November 2017, after the March 1 through Oct. 31 turtle nesting season ends.
Sand for the midreach project would be trucked to the site to improve the accuracy in the placement of the sand and reduce potential for environmental damage, instead of dredging the sand onto the beach from offshore.
Of the $56.19 million required for initial two-year construction of the midreach, the Corps of Engineers estimates that:
$45.56 million will come from the federal government.
$6.32 million will come from the county's tourist tax. Of the $6.32 million in tourist tax money, more than $2.6 million would be allocated in the current budget year that ends Sept. 30, and the more than $3.7 million in the next budget year,
$4.31 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The rest of the project, called "periodic nourishment," will cost about $494.71 million over the following 48 years, with:
$226.63 million coming from the federal government.
$159.51 million from the county hotel tax.
$108.57 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
In September, the Brevard County Tourist Development Council approved a 50-year planning budget for the Tourist Development Tax beach management fund, which includes projected funding for the midreach, north reach and south reach projects. The advisory Tourist Development Council also supported the County Commission executing an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers that includes construction of the midreach project.
Initial work on the north and south reaches was completed between 2000 and 2003, with both areas now undergoing periodic nourishment.
The north reach is a 9.4-mile area from Jetty Park near Port Canaveral to the northern limit of Patrick Air Force Base, and includes the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach areas.
The south reach is a 3.8-mile area from Flug Avenue just north of Indialantic to Spessard Holland Park just south of Melbourne Beach.
In 2014, the County Commission approved a design agreement with the Army for the midreach segment. That agreement allows the Army Corps of Engineers to create final plans and specifications for the project, a requirement before construction work could begin.
Design for the first phase of midreach construction is complete, and federal money is in place to begin construction. The Army Corps wants to complete awarding of contracts for the first phase of construction by the end of this budget year on Sept. 30.
The Brevard County Commission will discuss the midreach beach nourishment project during its meeting that begins at 9 a.m. July 12 in the Commission Room of the Brevard County Government Center, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Building C, Viera.
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