Flagler County looks for money for dune issue solution

The county is looking at a long-range plan to handle beach renourishment

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Officials in Flagler County are looking for a solution to its ever-changing dune problem. Millions of dollars have been dumped into keeping the dunes replenished over the years but storms and erosion continue to cause problems.

Now the county is now looking for funding to fix it.

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Flagler County engineer Faith Alkhatib said they’re at a critical point now to try and save the beaches, but she also said they don’t have a written-out plan yet to try and do that in the future.

“We can tell at least we lost 1 million cubic yards for the last five years, especially after the storms like Matthew, Irma, and Dorian that hit very bad,” she said.

Alkhatib said they’ve received help to fix 18 miles of eroding coastline but will likely need even more in the years ahead.

“We’ve received at least $50 million to do a few projects but Flagler County doesn’t have a long comprehensive plan to deal with the ongoing problems,” she said.

On Monday, Alkhatib, county commissioners and others met to figure out how to pay for it.

“At least we need $100 million to do what we can to protect our dunes and our beaches,” Alkhatib said.

She said that’s the estimated initial project cost for offshore dredging and work. That would be largely covered by federal and state grants but the county would need to pay for future maintenance. The current options presented to commissioners ranged from $6 to $8 million a year.

That’s money the county currently doesn’t have in the budget.

Commissioners said Monday it could mean tapping into taxes from residents, the county’s general fund, tourism dollars and grants.

“The beach erosion is starting to get a little bit scary and as a resident and a business owner, I mean, this is my livelihood and if we don’t have these dunes to protect us it’s one of those things where if the dunes go away we don’t have a home,” said John Lulgjuraj.

Lulgjuraj owns Oceanside Bar and Grille on A1A which was one of the businesses impacted by the road collapsing after past hurricanes. He agrees that it’ll be a joint effort and that he thinks most residents won’t mind paying a little extra in taxes.

“If we communicate it properly and more importantly if we come together, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t make sure that our beach is sustainable,” he said.

Alkhatib said the goal is to make a decision this summer.

About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.